Report on affects of child abuse
Tennessee law enforcement leaders released a report this month that showed child abuse and neglect will produce 350 violent criminals in Tennessee. The report cites evidence that in-home parent coaching for at-risk, first-time parents can prevent most child abuse and neglect and reduce the risk of future crime. The new report prepared by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, titled Protect Kids, Reduce Crime, Save Money: Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect n Tennessee, calculates that of the 8,732 children in Tennessee who were confirmed by the state to be victims of abuse or neglect in 2003, more than 350 will grow up to become violent criminals because of the abuse or neglect they endured.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee is a bipartisan, non-profit, anti-crime organization comprised of 76 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, other police leaders, and survivors of violence from across the state. Nashville Chief of Police Ronal Serpas and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall released the report at a news conference at the State Capitol. Both are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee. It is part of the national anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, which includes more than 2,500 law enforcement members. Mark Rogers, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, and Jeff Kirsch, vice president of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Tennessee, also participated in the news event. “Too many Tennessee children now are becoming victims of abuse and neglect and, tragically, criminals later on when they are adults,” said Serpas. “For the small investment of giving low-income parents some help to better take care of their kids, we’ll gain a larger return in saving money, preventing crime and saving lives.” Citing results from a rigorous study of one model program—the Nurse Family Partnership—Hall explained that high quality in-home parent coaching services beginning when the mother is pregnant can prevent as much as four out of five cases of abuse or neglect among at-risk kids. Additionally, children from families not in the program had twice as many arrests by the time they were 15 as the children whose mothers received coaching. Some parents, especially those who were raised in abusive and neglectful homes themselves, need help in developing the necessary skills of parenting to avoid abusing and neglecting their own children. In-home parent coaching helps at-risk parents break the cycle of abuse and neglect and strengthens families by teaching parents to be responsible caregivers and productive citizens. Child abuse and neglect costs America in excess of $80 billion a year, most of which are crime related costs. Tennessee residents bear more than $850 million of those costs. The Nurse Family Partnership program saved taxpayers four dollars for every dollar invested and averaged more than $18,000 in net savings for each family enrolled in the program. “We know that quality in-home parent coaching saves lives and money, and cuts crime,” Rogers said, “When government invests now, it puts a down-payment on ensuring that our most vulnerable children won’t become our most wanted adults.” Earlier this year, the bipartisan Education Begins at Home Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Tom Osburne (R-Neb.).
The legislation would provide funding to states for a range of in-home parent coaching programs. Serpas and Hall called on Tennessee’s U.S. Sens. Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander and the entire Tennessee Congressional delegation to support and lead the effort to achieve passage of the Education Begins at Home Act. They also called for new resources to reach more Tennessee parents with high quality services. Senators Alexander and Frist are two of the most influential lawmakers in regards to the successful passage of the Education Begins at Home Act. Alexander serves as the Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee Chairman. Frist is the Senate Majority Leader.