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Legislation Combats Child Abuse

2012-03-20

The following is an article written by various chiefs of police in Maryland which describes Senator King's Home Visiting Accountability Act of 2012. Click here for the article on the Gazette's website and click here for the bill's webpage.

Concerning SB 566/HB 699, “Home Visiting Accountability Act of 2012:”

The problem of child abuse and neglect continues to plague our state and our nation. In 2010, there were nearly 700,000 confirmed victims of abuse or neglect nationwide, including 1,560 children who were killed as a result.

Here in Maryland, 13,000 children were victims of abuse or neglect in 2010, and 24 children died from abuse or neglect that year. The true number of children abused or neglected is likely significantly higher, since many incidents are never reported.

Child abuse and neglect also increases future crime. Survivors of abuse or neglect often carry emotional scars for life, and research has shown they are almost 30 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

The more than 5,500 law enforcement leaders and crime survivors from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids nationwide, including 50 in Maryland, know from the front lines against crime that child abuse is a serious public safety concern.

Voluntary, evidence-based, home-visiting programs can help break the cycle of abuse and violence. Eligible families can receive these voluntary services to learn more about their child’s health, nutrition and physical, psychological and emotional development.

One rigorous study of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) found that participation in the program cut abuse and neglect among at-risk kids nearly in half.

Voluntary, evidence-based home visiting also can save money. A 2011 study of NFP by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found NFP produced almost $21,000 in net savings per family served.

However, such reductions in child abuse and neglect and later crime, as well as resulting cost savings, can be achieved only through effective home visiting programs.

The Home Visiting Accountability Act of 2012 will improve the quality of home-visiting programs in Maryland by focusing state funding on programs that have been proved effective.

The Maryland police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids urge the General Assembly to pass this important legislation to ensure that Maryland tax dollars are invested wisely in voluntary, home-visiting programs proven through research to stop the cycle of child abuse and neglect, reduce crime and violence and save money.

James R. Craze, chief of police, Greenbelt
Kim C. Dine, chief of police, Frederick
J. Thomas Manger, chief of police, Montgomery County
Kenneth L. Tregoning, sheriff, Carroll County
Terrance Treschuk, chief of police, Rockville
William E. Tyler, chief of police, Taneytown
John R. Williams, chief of police, Sykesville

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