HARRISBURG – The House today took a strong stance against the abuse of elderly residents when it unanimously approved Rep. Kate Klunk’s (R-Hanover) House Bill 400. The legislation seeks to end the public shaming of care-dependent Pennsylvanians on the internet, specifically on social media.
“There have been far too many instances of humiliating images, videos and audio recordings of senior citizens and people with special needs posted to the internet as a means of chastising and demeaning them,” Klunk said. “This is appalling and abusive behavior that these residents should not have to endure.”
Specifically, Klunk’s bill would create a new subsection to the abuse of a care-dependent person in the Crimes Code. It would make it a crime for a caretaker to share any audio, video or still image of a care-dependent person in any format, medium or through any electronic service pertaining to communication with the intent to ridicule them as a type of abuse. The bill grades this type of abuse as a third-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500. House Bill 400
now goes to the Senate for consideration.
“This legislation protects the privacy, rights and dignity of all Pennsylvanians who are dependent on caregivers,” Klunk said. “No person, let alone senior citizens, should be subject to this kind of torment.”
June is World Elder Abuse Month. Sadly, one in 10 Americans aged 60 or older has been the victim of some form of elder abuse. Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, as well as exploitation, neglect and abandonment. Perpetrators range from a victim’s children or spouse to staff at nursing homes, assisted living and other facilities. Scammers who prey on the elderly are also perpetrators of elder abuse.
Signs of abuse are isolation, weight loss, bruises or broken bones, increased confusion, unusual withdrawals from bank accounts and signing over a home to another person.
If you are the victim of elder abuse, or if you suspect someone you know is a victim, please don’t hesitate to report it. Report incidents to your local police department by calling 911 or call the state’s 24-hour abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505.
Representative Kate A. Klunk
169th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Greg Gross