Attorney General Jim Petro, Verizon Wireless Announce Campaign to Raise Awareness of Elder Abuse in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH — Attorney General Jim Petro joined other state officials today to unveil a campaign to raise public awareness of elder abuse, a crime that is estimated to be reported in only one out of every five instances of victimization. Thanks to the financial support of Verizon Wireless, educational posters and brochures will be distributed throughout the state to help protect the nearly two million Ohioans age 60 and older from becoming, or continuing to be, victims of elder abuse.

"In order for us to effectively combat elder abuse, the public has to know that it is a real problem in every neighborhood in our state," Petro said. "When an elderly person is being physically, emotionally or financially abused or neglected, it is a serious crime that must be recognized and reported immediately."

Verizon Wireless has printed 100,000 public-awareness posters and 200,000 educational brochures to be distributed and posted across Ohio. The materials explain the various forms of elder abuse and the signs of victimization. In a coordinated effort between Verizon Wireless and the Attorney General's Office, the posters and brochures will be delivered to local government agencies in all 88 counties for posting in their communities. Also, businesses and individuals can request copies of the items by calling Petro's Child & Elder Protection Section at 614-644-0729.

"Verizon Wireless is hopeful that this campaign will bring a greater focus on a population of domestic-violence victims whose plight is often ignored," said Tom Laughlin, Verizon Wireless' director of business sales. "We are pleased to work with Attorney General Petro to address this need."

In January, Attorney General Petro joined Department of Aging Director Joan W. Lawrence to announce the recommendations of the Ohio Elder Abuse Task Force, which met for a year to devise a plan to address the issue. The task force's recommendations included the implementation of a public-awareness campaign, such as the one announced today.

"Ohio's senior population will continue to grow in the years ahead," Lawrence said. "We need to be proactive in our efforts to prevent elder abuse and exploitation, and this type of campaign will help further educate our citizens about the seriousness and pervasiveness of this problem."

Along with Attorney General Petro and the Department of Aging, the Department of Job & Family Services is also supporting this public-awareness campaign. "Public education is the foundation to an effective adult protective services system," ODJFS Director Barbara Riley said.

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