April is designated Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, a time to call attention to the epidemic of violence against children. It’s a daunting task. According to the Maine Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, there were more than 4,000 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Maine in 2012 alone.

Research confirms what those of us in law enforcement already know: Abused and neglected children are more prone to violence as teenagers and adults and struggle more later in life with alcohol and substance abuse and unemployment.

Fortunately, research also shows that voluntary home visiting for young, inexperienced parents has a proven impact on reducing child abuse and neglect.

These services are provided in our state by Maine Families, which enables trained professionals to educate parents about how to nurture and care for young children and respond positively to stressful situations that could otherwise lead to neglect or violence.

In 2013, 95 percent of families enrolled in the program who had been involved in Maine’s Child Protective Services had no further substantiated allegations of abuse or neglect.

Almost all of the children in the program had health insurance and a primary care provider and were up-to-date in immunizations and well-child check-ups.

For these reasons and more, I encourage our lawmakers to continue their support for these services.

Ronald Shepard
chief of police

Gorham