Carried out by Queen’s PhD student Brendan Sturgeon, the ongoing research examines the impact of anti-social behaviour on older people in Northern Ireland.
Brendan said: “Society and the media tend to portray older people as being weak, fragile and alone - a stereotype that makes them ‘easy targets’ for the cowards who engage in anti-social behaviour.
“This research examines whether this stereotype is accurate. Are older people really as vulnerable as society would have us believe, or is this simply a misguided, ageist perception of a confident and thriving ageing population?
“This study also highlights older people’s experiences and perceptions of anti-social behaviour, the extent of the problem within their own community, their fear of this type of activity and how it impacts on their lives.
“The Home Office indicates that there are 13.5million reports of anti-social behaviour in the UK each year. That is one report every two seconds. Worryingly, the British Crime Survey estimates that 9 per cent of elderly women stay at home because of their fear of crime.
“Older people deserve to feel safe in their own communities, and the rest of society has a responsibility to challenge the negative stereotypes that make them attractive targets to those who commit anti-social behaviour.
“Although the final research report won’t be published until next year, findings to date indicate that the impact of anti-social behaviour on older members of our community is very real, immediate and long-lasting. It is a problem that must be addressed sooner rather than later.”
Professor Sally Wheeler, Director of the Institute of Governance at Queen’s said: “Brendan is a full time PhD student and is funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies through the CAP research programme at Queen’s. His research is a prime example of how CAP is striving to challenge negative stereotypes and attitudes towards ageing.
“There are currently seven Queen’s PhD students working on behalf of CAP, three of whom are funded by the Department of Employment and Learning. This funding is vital in attracting researchers like Brendan early in their careers to focus on the issues that are most relevant to the ageing population in Northern Ireland.”
Brendan Sturgeon will present an update on his research An Assessment of the Risk and Impact of Anti-Social Behaviour on Older People at 12.15pm on Thursday 29 May at the Institute of Governance at Queen’s University, 63 University Road, Belfast.
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