I was pleased to see April proclaimed “Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month” in Maine.
Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem and merits attention by everyone. According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, in 2008 there were 6,178 reports of abuse or neglect involving 12,141 children assigned to caseworkers for child protective assessment. Sadly, Lewiston led the state with 1,014 of those cases.
As police chief, I can tell you that child abuse and neglect cases are some of the saddest cases we see; sad because of the damage done to an innocent child, and equally sad because it can be prevented.
The best prevention for child abuse and neglect is parent education and awareness. Voluntary home visiting programs work with new parents, especially at-risk parents, to teach them how to be the best possible parents. Using a trained, professional “coach,” parents are taught how to care for their newborn, what to expect during a child’s first couple years of life, how to nurture each developmental stage in a young child’s life and, most importantly, strategies to overcome frustration and exhaustion without turning to violence and neglect.
I applaud Congress’ recent approval of the first-ever federal funding of home visits.
Those of us in law enforcement know that violence breeds violence. Kids who grow up with violence are more likely to grow up to be violent adults and/or commit crimes. Home visiting programs help break the cycle of abuse and future crime.
Michael Bussiere, chief of police, Lewiston