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Cultural Issues IN ELDER ABUSE PROSECUTION NYC Elder Abuse Training Project.

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Presentation on theme: "Cultural Issues IN ELDER ABUSE PROSECUTION NYC Elder Abuse Training Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Cultural Issues IN ELDER ABUSE PROSECUTION NYC Elder Abuse Training Project

2 What is culture?  Concepts of a given group who share: Ideas Customs Skills Arts Language Ethnic origins

3 Cultural values  Cultural values represent strengths in families source of strengths for individuals

4 Nine categories of culture  Language  Patterns of thought  Beliefs  Stereotypes  Attitudes

5 Four categories of culture that relate to prosecution  Values  Norms  Folkways  Mores

6 Values  Shared principles, goals or standards  Includes notions of right and wrong

7 Norms  Prescribed appropriate behavior What members of a culture can and cannot do

8 Folkways  Ways of thinking or acting  If negative, enforced informally, regarded as merely disgusting

9 Mores  Folkways that are Considered conducive to the welfare of a culture Considered to be vital Enforceable by penalties Codified by law (e.g., murder, incest)

10 Mainstream culture  Also known as dominant culture  Has same nine categories of culture  75% of US population

11 How to join mainstream?  Some immigrants arrive in mainstream  Others assimilate  May take generations (some are blocked)  Begin with bi-cultural competence (language and workplace skills)  Attain full political and marital participation

12 What is an ethnic group?  People who identify as a people  Share commonalities, e.g.: History and identity Language National background Religion

13 US is ethnically diverse  Four principal ethnic minority groups: Latino African American Native American Asian/Pacific Islander  Total now about 30%  Projected to reach 47% by 2050  Diversity increasing within groups

14 Why culture important in prosecution  Shapes family roles, responsibility, distribution of resources  Influences decision making and coping  Determines if families seek outside help

15 Cultural factors may inhibit reporting  Concepts and definitions  Suffering  Shame  Distrust  Special fears of some immigrants

16 Concepts and definitions  Elder abuse remains ill-defined  May not see emotional abuse if routine yelling & shouting is culturally normal  Difficult to conceive of financial exploitation if family shares all assets

17 Suffering  Some groups value perseverance, silent suffering, quiet endurance  May not see themselves as victims

18 Shame  Fear social consequence of bringing shame  Shame should stay in the family  Laws and customs in some countries forbid intervention in family affairs

19 Distrust of authority  Authorities in some countries are invasive Secret police Spying Encroachments on individual rights

20 Fears of some immigrants  Don’t know they have rights here  Fear deportation if authorities involved  Come from countries where courts punitive

21 Filial roles vary  Some cultures expect daughters to care for elders  Some promote women’s careers, shift caregiving responsibility to men  Some elders retain control until they die  Some relinquish control in exchange for care

22 Culturally competent communications  Congruent with expected behavior that each cultural group recognizes as appropriate  Key to successful investigation and prosecution

23 Tips for sensitive approach  Address as Mr/Mrs/Ms Lastname  Be alert and cautious; in some cultures, women may initiate handshakes with men  Be conscious of your body language If client is seated, ask permission to sit Sit upright at a distance

24 ... More tips  Consider averted eye contact to be a sign of respect In many cultures, eye contact with authorities is discouraged  Begin with indirect, open-ended questions (e.g., questions that don’t require a “yes” or “no answer)

25 ... More tips  Maintain the victim’s dignity Avoid  speech patterns from the victim’s culture in an effort to fit in  American slang expressions Maintain your dignity and victim’s dignity

26 Language  Language can be a barrier because: Many don’t speak English  Use an impartial translator Never use a family member, friend or neighbor to translate  Use telephonic translation services Ask interpreter to strictly translate what you ask

27 Other tips  Touching Gentle touches to some are okay Touching to some an intrusion  Some won’t reveal injuries under clothing due to cultural customs of modesty or religious beliefs  Present prosecutorial options impartially; Some victims may choose your favored options to gain your respect

28 Ethical considerations  Cultural factors increase prosecutorial challenges  Dealing with recanting or reluctant witnesses Should a person be compelled to testify? What did an earlier statement mean? Are extensive witness supports needed at trial?

29 Summary  Prosecutors are likely to handle cases with ethnic minority victims/witnesses  Be aware of your own cultural traits  Cultural factors are not automatic predictors  Each case is unique Assess with relevant cultural aspects in mind

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