Iowa law enforcement officials are highlighting a connection between juvenile crime and child abuse. The Iowa State Sheriff and Deputies Association released a report today in cooperation with a national group called “Fight Crime, Invest in Kids”.
Spokeswoman Jessica Fast says children who suffer mistreatment or neglect are almost twice as likely to commit a crime. And in 2009, 13,000 kids were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect in Iowa. “It puts numbers on a situation that is very, very real in Iowa. 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 said.
There are currently a handful of state-run programs where parents can volunteer to have their home examined to ensure it’s a safe environment for their children. The latest figures show 15,000 Iowa families had a home visit in 2009.
Fast hopes the Iowa legislature will protect funding for the programs during the upcoming session. She says national data shows such programs have the ability to reduce the chance of child abuse by 50%. “What we are 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 payers’ dollars,” Fast said.
Investing in children now, Fast said, would go a long way toward decreasing crime in the future.