3 DAs Unite in B’klyn to Scrutinize Child Abuse

April 17, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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JAY STREET — Today, three New York City district attorneys came together with crime survivors in Brooklyn to announce a new report showing the extent of child abuse and neglect across New York state.
They also emphasized the benefits of voluntary home visiting services, which can reduce child abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent.

On behalf of the program “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids,” Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, Richmond County District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. and Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown released a report indicating that at least 77,000 children in New York state suffered abuse and neglect in 2010 — more than 200 every day. Of those, 114 children died as a result of the abuse.  

“We are concerned about child abuse and neglect as a reality for far too many children, not just statistics on a sheet of paper,” Hynes said. “Nationally, there were almost 700,000 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect that claimed the lives of 1,560 in 2010, and 114 of those kids were from New York. That number should shock the conscience of every one of us.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Abuse and neglect often contributes to future crime, and in some cases, actually constitutes a crime, Hynes explained. Research shows that while most survivors of child abuse never become violent criminals, they are 30 percent more likely to become violent criminals than those without a history of abuse.

“One of the most difficult aspects of my job is dealing with the victims of crime and their families. There’s no punishment that can undo their anguish,” said Hynes, who witnessed firsthand the consequences of domestic abuse when he was a child. “If we continue to allow thousands of children each year to be berated, beaten, brutalized and neglected, we will pay dearly not only in taxpayers’ dollars, but in crime, violence and shattered lives.”

The recent report emphasizes the benefits of voluntary home visiting services, which helps new parents cope with the stresses of raising a young child. Research shows that quality home visiting programs can reduce child abuse and neglect by as much as 50 percent, significantly reduce later crime, and it will save taxpayers a lot of money.

Survivors are more likely to abuse their own children, creating a cycle of violence that can span generations. This amounts to about 3,000 additional violent criminals in New York state who would not become criminals if not for the abuse and neglect they endured, according to Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.

The report details research on programs proven to prevent early abuse and neglect. A study of one program model, the Nurse-Family Partnership program, compared at-risk children whose mothers received visits with similar children whose families were not served.

Children who did not participate had twice as many incidents of abuse and neglect as children in participating families. By age 15, youth whose families did not participate in the program had more than twice as many arrests. One site of the quality nurse home visitation program found significantly fewer cases of childhood injury and child mortality among families who participated.

By reducing child abuse and neglect and later crime and other negative outcomes, evidence-based home visiting programs are highly cost-effective. Analysis from the Washington State Institute for Public Policy showed that the Nurse-Family Partnership program produced a net savings of almost $21,000 for each family served. New York state can only realize such returns through investing in proven, evidence-based programs; policymakers need to ensure public investments are directed to those services.

Law enforcement leaders are also calling upon the New York state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to maintain funding for voluntary, high-quality home visiting programs and to aggressively pursue federal funding available to expand these services.

District Attorney Hynes released an open letter to policy makers, signed by more than 1,560 law enforcement leaders nationwide (more than 200 from New York); one for every confirmed child who died from abuse or neglect in 2010.

In the 2011 fiscal year, New York spent less than $50 million from combined local, state and federal sources for two voluntary home-visiting programs that have strong evidence they reduce child abuse and neglect. The Nurse Family Partnership Program and Healthy Families combined currently serve less than 10 percent of families of newborns who would otherwise qualify and benefit from these services.

Child abuse and neglect is defined as: (1) any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or (2) an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.

To report child abuse, call the Child Abuse Hotline number at the New York State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment at (800) 342-3720. The website is www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/prevention. Call 911 if it appears that immediate action needs to be taken to protect the welfare of the child.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is a non-profit anti-crime organization of over 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors. Its mission is to take a hard-nosed, skeptical look about what really works — and what doesn’t work — to get kids off to the right start in life and to keep them from becoming criminals. It then places that information in the hands of policymakers, the media and the public.

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