Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention
In just one year, nearly 80,000 California children are confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect. Among those, ten percent will experience further maltreatment within a year.
The consequences of abuse and neglect are severe. By age 21, eight in ten young adults who were abused as kids experience depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress or other mental health challenges.
The recurrence of child abuse and neglect can be reduced by interventions that improve family functioning. In Los Angeles County, First 5 LA invested nearly $20 million to help provide Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for families with children who have been diagnosed with behavioral issues often associated with past maltreatment. This and other programs are shown to improve relationships by encouraging positive interactions and giving parents skills to help kids cope with stress and past trauma.
Home visiting programs, providing ongoing support to new and expectant parents and through the first years of life, are also proven to reduce rates of abuse and neglect. The Nurse- Family Partnership home visiting program reduced child maltreatment among children of low-income, single mothers by nearly half, leading to happier, healthier kids and better outcomes for families.
Pro-Kid® Policy Agenda
California should support a prevention program for children at risk of maltreatment, to promote prevention, early identification and intervention and at-home services. The program would support families and keep children safe from maltreatment, and when possible work to keep children and families together.
Groundbreaking research is paving the way to greater awareness of childhood trauma, highlighting the need for California to develop a more robust child abuse and neglect prevention system, and demonstrating the importance of investing in such prevention systems. Studies are shedding new light on how common abuse and neglect are among California kids. The Children’s Data Network, linking child welfare systems data with other population data, can help identify the true frequency of maltreatment to illustrate the pervasiveness of the problem. A new law that took effect in 2015 provides parenting foster youth with added supports they need to be effective parents to help break the cycle of abuse and neglect. Still far too many of our state’s foster youth are suffering the effects of abuse and neglect, without the support they need to heal and thrive. California must do more for these vulnerable kids.