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Police Say Home Visits Save Lives, Prevent Crime


Friday, January 26, 2007   

Washington lawmakers are being asked to set aside funds for more home visits to at-risk parents. Law enforcement officials say 18 children per day suffer some sort of abuse or neglect in our state. Home-visiting programs to help high-risk families are critically short of funding and staff, even though they are proven to prevent child abuse, neglect, and crime. The coalition Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is lobbying for $14 million over two years to increase these efforts statewide. Comments from Colleen Wilson, police chief of Sumner, Washington.

Washington law enforcement officials say current efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect through home visits serve only a fraction of those who need help, because the programs are critically short of money and staff. Visiting nurses, counselors and other professionals check on nutrition, safety and living conditions, make referrals and offer support. Colleen Wilson, the police chief in Sumner, says this type of personal contact not only prevents neglect and crime now...but in the future.

"If kids have the right skills, the right assets early on, in those first two years, they're much less likely to become a problem for the prisons. They're able to be successful in school, and success in school relates to staying out of crime. It's all connected."

A proposal in the legislature would add 14 million dollars for such efforts. Wilson says that would save 35-hundred children in Washington from abusive situations.

Sumner Police Chief Colleen Wilson is a 30-year law enforcement veteran. She told Legislators that personal contact in a home setting is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of abuse, neglect and crime.

"If you have generational abuse, which we clearly know that if a child grows up in a violent atmosphere, then they have a propensity toward violence...then they will raise a child who's more likely to be involved...and it just goes on."

This week, Washington lawmakers learned that 18 children per day in our state suffer some form of abuse at home. The Legislature is being asked to fund more home visits for at-risk families. Chris Thomas explains.

Chief Wilson can be reached (in Sumner) at (253) 863-6384. The group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids is made up of more than 125 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecuting attorneys and victims of violence. The media contact is Laura Wells at (206) 664-7110.

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