The Elmira Nurse-Family Partnership sends nurses into the homes of at-risk children and helps parents cope with the pressures that can lead to child abuse and neglect, reports the Elmira, N.Y., Star-Gazette. Support includes home visitation, parent training, and other services. A statewide coalition of law enforcement officials and crime victims is seeking more money to fund the program and similar preventive projects around New York. Their goal is to break the cycle of abuse and neglect that some officials believe helps breed future criminals.
The anti-crime coalition Fight Crime: Invest in Kids New York says that victims of child abuse and neglect often grow up to become violent offenders. There were 77,860 official cases of child abuse and neglect in New York State in 2001. More than 3,000 of them are likely to become violent criminals as adults, the group says. Investing now in crime prevention will save billions of dollars 15 or 20 years down the road, law enforcement officials say. “The evidence is overwhelmingly conclusive that these programs work,” said Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick. “Legislators have a propensity to name laws after dead children. It would behoove them to name laws after programs that work and prevent children from being abused and sometimes killed.”
Elmira’s Nurse-Family Partnership is used as a model in 22 states and in other countries. While the program is voluntary, more than 90 percent of parents contacted agree to take part.
Research tracked 400 low-income, unmarried women in one county 13 years after they left the program. The results were compared to counterparts in a control group. Among the findings:
– 79 percent fewer cases of child abuse and neglect among the families who went through the program compared to the control group.
– 33 percent fewer subsequent pregnancies.
– 54 percent fewer arrests among 15-year-olds.
– 69 percent fewer convictions and probation violations among 15-year-olds.
– 58 percent fewer sexual partners among 15-year-olds.