In focusing on trauma, we lose sight of programs that can prevent child abuse
I was happy to see, in your article on the rate of child abuse in Massachusetts (“Child abuse totals high in Mass.,” Page A1, Feb. 9), mention of child-abuse prevention programs. These programs are too often overlooked when we focus all of our attention on after-the-fact intervention programs, including those run by the Department of Children and Families.
There are effective family-support programs aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect that are currently serving families across Massachusetts, including Family Centers, where all families in a community can go to get support, and Healthy Families Massachusetts, a home-based family support and coaching program for first-time parents under the age of 21.
We know these programs work to keep families stable and kids safe. In fact, a randomized controlled trial evaluation of Healthy Families Massachusetts shows that the program reduces the use of corporal punishment; reduces risky behavior, including use of alcohol and drugs; and increases factors for family self-sufficiency.
Sadly, child-abuse PREVENTION programs, despite scientific evidence of their effectiveness, do not get the resources, support, or attention they need to reach more families before the trauma of child abuse occurs.