Nassau meeting focuses on child abuse

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice was joined Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice was joined by police chiefs from several villages at a press conference where child abuse prevention was discussed. (April 25, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

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Preventing child abuse and neglect was the focus of a gathering Wednesday of Nassau County law enforcement officials.

"As prosecutors and law enforcement officials, we see the consequences of child abuse every day. . . . Violence begets violence, and abused and neglected children often become abusive and violent themselves," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Rice, two of her staffers and nine chiefs or commissioners of Nassau's village or city police were part of a campaign begun last week by a national law enforcement group -- Fight Crime: Invest in Kids -- that seeks to give child abuse prevention tips to government officials and the public.

"Compared to young people from similar backgrounds and neighborhoods, victims of child abuse and neglect are nearly twice as likely to commit a crime before they're 19 years old," Rice said at the campaign's news conference Wednesday outside the State Supreme Court Building in Mineola.

Rice cited a new report on child abuse by Fight Crime that called for more home visitation programs, such as those by Healthy Families New York and the Nurse Family Partnership.

Bill Kilfoil, Port Washington police chief and a vice president of the state's Association of Chiefs of Police, said: "One thing we can do to prevent child abuse and neglect is fund home visitation programs for parents of infants and young members. Quality home visiting ensures . . . that fewer children are injured and fewer grow up to injure others."

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Kilfoil, a co-chair of the 200-plus-member New York State branch of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, said such programs also reduced "crime among mothers and children" who participated.

Arielle Bernstein, deputy director of Fight Crime's state branch, said Nassau is not involved in the two federally funded visitation programs, which are active in Suffolk.

But Kara Guy, a spokeswoman for County Executive Edward Mangano, said: "The Nassau County Department of Social Services funds the Coalition Against Child Abuse and Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and considers them to be strategic partners working with these overlapping populations."

Other police departments at the news conference were Freeport, Glen Cove, Great Neck Estates, Lake Success, Long Beach, Malverne, Rockville Centre and Sands Point.

The numbers

Children reported abused or neglected in 2010

New York State: 80,078

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New York City: 35,083

Suffolk: 4,555

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Nassau:458

Source: 2010 New York State Child Protective Services Data

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