November 9, 2010
New Orleans Law Enforcement Leaders
Say Child Abuse Linked to Future Crime
Police Superintendent, Sheriff, Assistant District Attorney say home visits
Help prevent child abuse, later crime; 27 kids abused or neglected every day
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA (November 9, 2010)—Noting that on average a child in Louisiana is abused or neglected every hour of every day, law enforcement leaders called on state lawmakers to prioritize state funding for voluntary home visiting programs, and to enable Louisiana to be eligible for new federal funding for these programs that can significantly reduce child abuse and neglect and later crime throughout the state.
At a press conference in New Orleans on Tuesday, New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin N. Gusman and Jefferson Parish Executive Assistant District Attorney Barron Burmaster said that child abuse and neglect not only hurts kids today but also leads to increased crime in the future.
“No child should ever suffer abuse or neglect by those who raise them,” Superintendent Serpas said. “Yet every day, 27 Louisiana children are victimized. These children may be beaten and bruised, sexually molested, or left hungry or without medical care. We need to prevent these horrific cases of child abuse and neglect, and voluntary home visiting programs can help us accomplish that goal.”
The law enforcement leaders released a research report from the anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids showing that more than 10,000 Louisiana children were abused or neglected in 2008. In addition to harming children today, child abuse and neglect also leads to increased crime in the future. The report estimates that 400 of the children who were abused or neglected in Louisiana in 2008 will become criminals as adults, who otherwise would have avoided such crimes if not for the abuse or neglect they endured as children.
While most children who experience childhood abuse or neglect never become violent offenders, survivors of abuse and neglect are significantly more likely to commit crimes as adults. One researcher found that being abused or neglected almost doubles the odds that a child will commit a crime as a juvenile. The survivors are also more likely to abuse their own kids, creating a cycle of violence that can span generations.
The law enforcement leaders said voluntary home visits to at-risk families could prevent many cases of abuse and neglect from ever occurring. These programs send nurses or trained paraprofessionals to help pregnant mothers and new parents learn about their child’s health and developmental needs. Research on one quality program has shown that providing this support to new families can significantly reduce the likelihood that parents will abuse their kids and also can cut future crime.
A study of Nurse-Family Partnership in Elmira, New York compared at-risk children whose mothers received visits with similar children whose families did not participate. Children in participating families were half as likely to be abused or neglected. Children who did not participate in the program had more than twice as many convictions by age 19 as those in families who received the visits.
Louisiana has been offering access to the Nurse-Family Partnership since 1999 through the state’s office of Public Health. The program is offered across the state, and in Fiscal Year 2010, it served more than 2,800 mothers in Louisiana—approximately 15 percent of those eligible. The new federal health care bill included funding to expand evidence-based home visiting programs nationally, and Louisiana’s estimated shared in FY 2010 will be $1.5 million. However, because of a requirement in the legislation, the new federal funds must supplement—and not supplant—state home visiting funding.
Law enforcement leaders called on the Governor and Louisiana Legislature to at least maintain the state’s investment in home visiting services so they can be eligible for the federal funding now available to increase access to these programs by more families.
“There’s no replacement for tough prosecution, and no excuse for breaking the law. But there’s no punishment that can undo a crime or an act of violence,” Assistant District Attorney Burmaster said. “That’s why we need early interventions like voluntary home visiting to help the most at-risk families. We need Louisiana policymakers to hold the line against any more cuts to these vital services and make every effort to expand funding.”
Sheriff Gusman emphasized the importance of home visiting programs to help reduce child abuse and neglect.
“Violence breeds violence,” Gusman said. “We need to do more to save innocent kids from harm, because if we don’t, more of them will end up in the criminal justice system as juvenile delinquents and criminal offenders.”
On Wednesday, business leaders are gathering for a summit on the importance of investing in early childhood. The Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families will host the Louisiana Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment at the St. Charles Hilton in New Orleans. Local business leaders are invited to hear experts from across the country address how investing in early childhood programs is a security issue, a workforce development issue and an economic development issue. For more information visit www.lapartnership.org.
Superintendent Serpas, Sheriff Gusman and District Attorney Connick are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors, including 84 in Louisiana.
Sent by Shereese Harper to 1st District News & Info, 2nd District News & Info, 3rd District News & Info, 4th District News & Info, 5th District News & Info, 6th District News & Info, 7th District News & Info, 8th District News & Info, N.O.P.D. Command Desk, N.O.P.D. Crime Prevention, N.O.P.D. Public Information Office, N.O.P.D. Superintendent (e-mail accounts) through NOLAReady
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