Florida Seeks to Curb High Incidence of Child Abuse

Florida (at least Palm Beach county and Broward county) possesses a massive legal machine and virtual army of professionals to process the saddest of cases: cases of abandonment, abuse and neglect of innocent children.

Despite that, the sobering article below from FloridaToday.com points out that Florida has one of the highest incidences of child abuse in the nation, about 100,000 incidents per year. (Florida also has a relatively high incidence of domestic violence in general.)

Florida’s latest strategy for tackling child abuse emphasizes preventative early intervention and education. Let’s hope it helps.

September 4, 2005

Stopping child abuse

New plan could help stem Florida’s epidemic neglect of its youngest citizens

A plan by the Florida Department of Children and Families to cut child abuse in the state in half by 2010 is the best news to come from the often criticized agency in many years.

The ambitious goal is direly needed, as Florida’s abuse and neglect rate is a dismal 31.5 per 1,000 children, higher than almost every other state in the nation.

To bring those abstract figures home, picture this:

More than 100,000 children in the Sunshine State are abused, neglected or abandoned each year. That’s the entire number of students enrolled in Brevard County public schools, plus another 25,000.

To combat the horrifying statistic, the DCF wants to forge closer connections among community, law enforcement, education, health and other agencies.

They in turn would work more comprehensively to prevent abuse, in part by expanding proven programs that support and strengthen the families of at-risk children.

Legislators started the new prevention plan rolling by mandating DCF to assess the needs of abused children statewide.

That was commendable. But now they must fulfill the tough part of the bargain — making sure the community-based care agencies that will actually implement the push have steady, adequate funding.

Strong abuse prevention programs will lessen the suffering of vulnerable children. But they’ll also reduce the long-term costs child abuse inflicts on society in education, health and crime problems, a wise investment.

For educational purposes only and without intent to infringe on Copyright © 2005 FLORIDA TODAY