Gadsden County community leaders fight elder abuse

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jun 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-12 14:06:02-04

HAVANA, Fla. (WTXL)--It's a problem state leaders say is impacting thousands of seniors in our area.

State leaders say elder abuse is on the rise and it's one of the most under reported crimes.

Breaking the silence is the message at Havana Learning Center. Community leaders say to stop elder abuse it must be reported.

Children beating up the elderly and taking advantage of them are stories Lillian Johnson, the director of the Havana Learning Center, says she hears on a regular basis.

"It's not strangers doing this, it's family and friends that are doing this to our seniors," said Johnson.

She says many elderly people who are abused live in fear but by hosting events like this one recognizing "Word Elder Abuse Awareness Day," Johnson says she's working to let seniors know if they're being abused, there is help.

Abuse, Johnson says comes in many forms.

"It doesn't have to be physical," said Johnson."It can be mental, financial abuse," said Johnson. "How do we stop it? If you see it

going on you have to report it, if you don't report it how are we going to know."

The Florida Department of Children and Families investigated 64,000 allegations of abuse last year. More than 2,100 cases were in Franklin, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties. DCF says it's a slight increase from 2011.

Call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 to report abuse or go to