HB 1074 — Child Abuse and Neglect – Required Reporting

Committee: House Judiciary

Position: Support

The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.

House Bill 1270 promotes the heath and independence of, and provides justice for, older adults, by creating a coordinated community elder abuse response system. Elder abuse is defined as “an intentional or negligent act, or failure to act, that causes harm or risk of harm to an individual who is at least 50 years old by a family member, a caregiver, or any other individual with whom there is an expectation of trust.”

There are many contributing factors that allow us to be vulnerable as we age. As defined in Maryland’s Criminal Law Section 3-604, “vulnerable adults lack the physical or mental capacity to provide for the adult’s daily needs,” leaving their well-being in the hands of a caregiver, a parent, or other person who has permanent or temporary responsibility of their supervision. Adults with physical, mental, or financial barriers are more vulnerable than other adults because they are not as independent, posing a higher risk of being abused by others.

According to the National Council on Aging, “approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year.” Addressing elder abuse through multidisciplinary approaches such as education, resources, and prevention as well as coordination among state agencies and partners allows for maximization of the independence, autonomy and well-being of older persons.

Everyone has the right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. The Conference supports legislation that aims to protect our most vulnerable populations and believes that every individual, no matter how young or old, deserves to be treated with dignity and respect reflecting the basic premise of human rights and equality. For these reasons, the Conference urges a favorable report on House Bill 1270.