As Auburn’s Police Chief, I was pleased to read in the Sun Journal about the pressing need to reduce child abuse and neglect. The increasing numbers of child abuse cases in this state is alarming.

Child abuse not only affects the child and family, but also the entire community. We must learn how to prevent abuse.

Home visiting can help parents avoid life-altering trauma, and help the children grow up to be well-adjusted, productive citizens. Voluntary home visiting services are provided by trained professionals who recognize neglect, signs of potential violence, and alcohol and drug abuse. They teach parents about the health and development needs of their children as well as how to reduce stress and anxiety. 

Law enforcement professionals know that violence breeds violence. Although not every abused child becomes an abuser, the odds are greater that they will continue the cycle of violence they are accustomed to, and are more likely to perpetuate child abuse crimes. By the time law enforcement is called in, the damage has already been done.

Law enforcement leaders throughout Maine are stepping up to urge Sen. Olympia Snowe to include federal funding for home-visiting programs as part of the upcoming health care reform, as well as the home-visiting initiatives the administration is crafting. We also encourage state officials and communities to support home-visiting programs.

The voices of abused children must be heard.

Phillip L. Crowell Jr., Auburn Chief of Police

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