Elder Abuse Workshop: Welcome and Introductions

Welcome — Marie-Therese (MT) Connolly, Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Ms. Connolly welcomed the participants. Observing that many of the participants are grantees, she noted that the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the Archstone Foundation probably account for more than 90 percent of the grants awarded in the area of elder mistreatment.

Ms. Connolly introduced Mr. Thomas Feucht, Deputy Director for Research and Evaluation, NIJ. She recalled the first meeting ever on Elder Abuse Forensics in 2000 and the subsequent meeting four years later comprised of the first grantees in the elder abuse area, a gathering much smaller than the one today. She said that this meeting would not have been possible without the support of Mr. Feucht and his colleagues at NIJ who put great emphasis on how research translates into practice.

Opening Remarks — Thomas Feucht, Deputy Director for Research and Evaluation, NIJ

Mr. Feucht noted that it was a high moment for his agency to meet with the participants. He thanked Dr. Mulford and Ms. McNamee for their work in organizing this workshop, and he welcomed all the participants.

Mr. Feucht asked the participants to reflect on how to evaluate the quality, character and measure of a society. One of the most important measures of a society is how the most fortunate and best cared for see after and care for the least fortunate and most vulnerable—the poor, the sick, the very young and the very old. He suggested that the work of the participants on elder abuse and their continued commitment is a sign of the moral rectitude that we claim as this measure of the fortunate caring for the vulnerable, and he urged the group to hold this broad perspective as a hallmark of the measure of society.

NIJ, said Mr. Feucht, brings the perspective of two elements. The first is the rule of law—how laws are observed, sustained and supported, along with the notion of criminal action and legal remedies. This is a rich justice perspective and represents a powerful resource for caring for the vulnerable. The second element is the research perspective. This is a set of tools to bring to bear on the issues. It means that we are in the knowledge, learning and empirical evidence business. The connection between research on the one hand and policy on the other is something that NIJ always strives to support.

NIJ has an interest in why people do things. A fundamental question for NIJ is the “so what” question. We might know the relationship between things, but so what? How do we translate that empirical knowledge into policies and programs that will make a difference?

At NIJ there is a focus on data, evidence and measuring things accurately and reliably, and on being consistent with how others are measuring them. These theoretical frameworks help direct us to answer the right research questions in the right ways, and this is what we will be looking at over the next two days.

The NIJ research investment in elder abuse grants is middling compared with other portfolios. By the standard of hurt or lost lives, we must ask if we are satisfied with this level of investment. As a federal agency, NIJ faces difficult choices about where to place its resources. Meetings like this one matter all the more to illuminate the questions and the research most likely to make a difference in the lives of potential victims. We at NIJ are anxious for these conversations and for your insights. They are reality checks for us. For all of you who have worked as a researcher on a federally funded project, you are our ideas made real. This is important work. Thank you all for being here, for your attention, and for the work you do.

Introductions, Purpose and Charge — Ms. Connolly

Ms. Connolly asked all participants to introduce themselves and state where they were from. She asked the participants to bring forward their good ideas for research as the meeting progressed.

Date Created: August 11, 2008