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Talk of the Day -- Crime rate up among senior citizens

Talk of the Day -- Crime rate up among senior citizens

With Taiwan's population aging rapidly, the problem of senior citizens committing crimes has begun to surface. Earlier this year, police busted a drug ring in Lugu in Nantou County that was headed by an elderly woman, surnamed Chen. The 70-year-old confronted police when she was arrested, saying that her pension was inadequate to support her daily life. Police uncovered 21 packs of amphetamine and seven standard bullets at her home and discovered that all members of her ring were under 30 years of age. In a separate case, a terminally ill elderly man confessed on Oct. 23 to having set fire in a room in the Beimen branch of the government-run Sinying Hospital in Tainan earlier that day. The incident left 12 dead and 60 others injured. The 69-year-old unmarried colon cancer patient reportedly attributed his attack mainly to "feeling bad and unhappy." Commenting on increasing reports of criminal cases involving senior citizens, a local aging expert said gone are the days when the elderly enjoyed relatively carefree lives. The following are excerpts from a special report in the Sunday edition of the United Evening News about criminal activities involving senior citizens: According to data released by the National Police Agency (NPA), more than 4,000 criminal cases involving elderly people were recorded in 2002. The number has since increased steadily and reached a peak of 8,964 in 2010. The number dropped to 7,126 in 2011 and 6,103 cases had been reported as of Oct. 15 this year. Most senior citizen-related criminal cases involve theft, gambling and endangering public safety, NPA officials said. In Tainan, eight elderly men in a residential community were accused of sexually assaulting a junior high school student many times over the past four years. The shocking case was not exposed until the girl became pregnant recently. A study on crimes committed by people 60 years of age or over found that those aged between 60 and 64 are most prone to violate the law. Other findings included that the crime rate was the highest among junior high school graduates or dropouts and that most elderly criminals were from low-income families or lived in poverty. Money-related crimes such as gambling, theft and fraud led the list of criminal activities elderly people were likely to commit, followed by murder or assault, and rape. Huang Chun-jen, director of the mental health department at Datong Municipal Hospital in Kaohsiung, said the lives of elderly people today are full of anxiety and uncertainty, and many of them suffer from diseases. "Many senior citizens now either live alone or with their unemployed children and face heavy social and economic pressures. With the lack of proper channels to release their emotions, some elderly citizens may opt to commit suicide or commit crimes," Huang said. According to Huang, many of his patients complained about suffering from physical pains and insomnia. "Examinations show, however, that most of them have emotional problems that have often been neglected by their family members and themselves," Huang said. "Such emotional problems, if not dealt with properly, could eventually prompt them to commit crimes," he said. Noting that dementia and other disorders could also lead to the loss of a sense of morality or result in people acting on their whims, Huang said family members and social welfare organizations should show more concern for the well-being of senior citizens. Some local scholars said unfamiliarity with new technologies, child-parental alienation and the lack of human contact with neighbors in an urban environment have also contributed to the plight of elderly people. The government and academic institutions should devote more effort to research problems related to aging, they suggested. (Oct. 28, 2012). (By Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-07-30 21:41 GMT+08:00