For one, each state can pass Erin’s Law, which mandates that each public school system in each state must teach children that’s it’s okay, they won’t get in trouble and they should tell on anyone who tries to molest them. So far, 28 states have passed this law and many more are considering doing so. Some states have even taken the concept further, such as Texas, which in 2009 was the first state to require school districts and daycare centers to teach children how to report molestation attempts.
Home visitation programs, such as Nurse-Family Partnership, and positive parenting programs, such as Love And Logic, have also proven to be highly successful for reducing child abuse. Most child abusers were abused themselves and live in areas where violence and drugs are common. Thousands of these parents could be taught how to better raise their children but, for the most part, don’t even know about them. These resources must be better and more widely promoted. There are also successful co-parenting courses designed for divorced couples, as well as CPS parenting programs. Of course, thousands of schools, churches and therapists also provide parenting classes across the U.S. Many more are needed. Education is the key.
Of course we can break this cycle and end child abuse. Following are the main problems and a number of solutions:
Child Sexual Abuse – Erin’s Law, Jenna’s Law, FL
CPS – Reform
Drug Abuse – Crack down, remove children
Reduce the need for foster care by sending far more neglected and abused children to live to family members and by helping parents financially who are unable to afford to properly provide for their children
Prevent Head Trauma/Shaken Baby Syndrome by teaching young parents how to deal with crying babies through educational, home visitinging and positive parenting programs
Teen Pregnancy – Adoption
*States Must Not Be Paid Federal Funds To Take Children From Families
Two-thirds of child maltreatment is classified as neglect; the other third as physical and sexual abuse, according to CPS (Child Protective Services).
The children at highest risk, according to the CDC, are those raised by inexperienced parents, who live in homes where alcohol/drug abuse and violence occur. State child welfare records indicate that substance abuse is one of the top two problems exhibited by families in 81% of the reported cases.
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Because child abuse is such a widespread problem, most states can’t keep up.
The CPS and foster care systems established to protect children all too often cause greater problems than the original neglect/abuse. Poorly-trained, underpaid CPS workers and foster parents make mistake after mistake, frequently removing children who should not have been removed and not removing children who should be removed. Tens of thousands of children have been removed from homes by CPS and then abused by foster parents or by other abused children and teens in foster homes. Poorly-trained CPS workers also place children with foster parents far from where the live and attend school. Most states require CPS workers to place these children with family members living nearby or make kinship placements. Unfortunately too many children have been removed and sent far away from their families and friends, disrupting their entire lives.
Because child abuse is such a widespread problem, many states can’t keep up. In Texas, for example, there have not been enough properly-trained CPS workers and foster parents for over a decade. The state legislature hasn’t budgeted the billions of dollars necessary to pay and train enough CPS workers to deal with so many thousands of neglected and abused children. In 2015, federal judge Janis Jack ruled that the foster care/CPS system is broken and ordered Texas to fix it, but the Lone Star State has since argued that it can solve its own problems without the intervention of a federal judge. Millions of dollars have now been provided to CPS to hire 800 more CPS workers but, even by so doing, the state is still under average in protecting children.
Dramatically reducing child abuse should be one of the nation’s highest priorities.
That means millions more children are harmed annually than all the Americans who have been killed and injured by terrorists since 9-11. Yet terrorism is one of the two or three top concerns of Americans, according to several research studies, and child abuse is not even on the list.
This needs to change!
For some reason, according to one study, Americans don’t think we can reduce child neglect/abuse. They think it’s terrible that children are injured and killed but there’s little we can do to stop it.
Fortunately there is much we can do to prevent and stop it. Click here to read our strategies and solutions.
By Madeline McClure
Child abuse is a horrific nationwide epidemic that has not received the amount of attention it’s needed for years in order to reduce and eliminate it. The time has come for this to change.
According to CPS, two-thirds of child maltreatment is classified as neglect; the other third as physical and sexual abuse. Some studies reveal that physical and sexual abuse combine for as much as half.
Most child abuse and neglect is committed by young parents, live-in partners and guardians who were also raised by abusive parents, and live in homes and neighborhoods where illegal drugs and violence is common. Too many foster parents are also guilty of child maltreatment.
So how do we begin to prevent and dramatically reduce child abuse?
Evidence from long-term studies proves we already have family support programs, such as Nurse-Family Partnership, that are working.
What’s missing is scale.
They need to be ramped up. We have scientific research that they are effective at strengthening family functioning, reducing negative outcomes and at saving taxpayer dollars, with returns ranging from $1 to more than $14 for every dollar invested. These returns could cut deeply into the approximately $400 million Texas currently spends on foster care payments annually.
Programs such as Home Visiting, the Positive Parenting Program (“Triple P”) and the Period of PURPLE Crying reach only a small fraction of the at-risk, high-need families they could serve.
In 2013, the continuum of family support home visiting programs had the capacity to serve a mere 10 percent of the 205,000 Texas families with young children considered in highest need, spanning only 68 of Texas’ 254 counties.
Texas’ goal should be to reach at least half of those highest-need families by 2023 — more than 100,000 families. That will require a strong investment today.
Legislators need to consider that the cost of preventing child abuse is small compared to the cost of cleaning up its damage.
Research shows that if each state will invest far more money in home visiting and parent educational programs, child maltreatment can be dramatically reduced.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the lifetime financial cost — medical, educational, welfare, criminal justice, and lost productivity — for just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment in the United States is about $124 billion.
Americans spend nearly $1.3 million for every child that dies from abuse and more than $210,000 for every abused child that lives. Based on these costs, Texas spends about $14 billion on the aftermath of that one year of abuse.
But these are costs we can avoid.