A report suggests a direct connection between child abuse and juvenile crime in Nebraska.
Jessica Fast, spokeswoman for the group “Fight Crime, Invest in Kids,” says children who suffer mistreatment or neglect in the state are almost twice as likely to commit crimes.
“It puts numbers on a situation that is very, very real, and that’s even under-reported because a lot of the times, those victims don’t get reported to the police or they don’t rise to the level of criminal abuse,” Fast says.
Under a few state-run programs, parents can volunteer to have their homes examined to ensure they’re providing a safe environment for their children.
Fast hopes the Nebraska legislature will invest in funding for such programs during the upcoming session.
She says national data shows those state programs have the ability to reduce the chances of child abuse by 50 percent.
“What we’re really asking the state is to make sure those are high-quality programs, evidence-based, quality programs that really show the desired results of reducing child abuse and neglect which then increases public safety and saves tax payer dollars,” Fast says.
Investing in children now, Fast says, would go a long way toward decreasing crime in the future.
Of the 14,000 cases of child abuse and neglect investigated in 2005 in Nebraska, more than 3,000 cases were substantiated.