Cycles of Abuse and Neglect "Need to Be Met Aggressively"
Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky calls on Michigan lawmakers for increased prevention resources
David Rahinsky is the Chief of Police of Grand Rapids Police Department and member of the national anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids.
Growing up with a father in law enforcement, I never doubted that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and spend my life improving lives and communities. I have worked in law enforcement for the past 31 years serving in four states across our great nation, and I now proudly serve Grand Rapids as Chief of Police.
As part of my duties to serve this community, and as election season is underway, I’d like to raise an issue that is often overlooked in the wide realm of politics, but one that I encounter daily in my professional life - the issue of child abuse and neglect.
According to the group Michigan’s Children, our state’s child abuse and neglect rate rose from 13 to 17 percent between 2009 and 2015. Children who experience Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), including neglect and abuse, are three times more likely to experience an arrest by age 18. They are also at a 3 to 10 times higher risk of using illicit drugs later in life. The consequences of neglect and abuse continue long after the initial trauma.
In 2002, child maltreatment, alone, cost the state of Michigan $1.8 billion – and over 80 percent of child maltreatment in Michigan is neglect.
Chief David Rahinsky, Grand Rapids Police Department
There are also financial consequences to the physical and mental health trauma that children suffer. In 2002, child maltreatment, alone, cost the state of Michigan $1.8 billion – and over 80 percent of child maltreatment in Michigan is neglect.
This cycle of abuse needs to be met aggressively. Addressing these problems early in a child’s life is the best way to ensure he/she is put on a path toward living healthy, productive lives.
Fortunately, Michigan has good prevention programs – but additional funding would provide for greater outreach and prevention.
One example is the Children’s Trust Fund, which funds direct service programs and local child abuse and neglect (CAN) prevention councils. These councils work to identify and prevent child abuse and neglect by conducting needs assessments, organizing public awareness campaigns, acting as a community liaison with interagency networks, and providing technical assistance.
The CAN prevention councils reached over 100,000 children in 2016, but more than twice that number are a part of families that are being investigated for cases of abuse and neglect. This figure should be unacceptable to our community. Michiganders will benefit from more resources to help the children and families that have yet to be reached by these programs.
I recognize the importance of legislation in enabling law enforcement to better serve and protect their communities and to prevent crime. Increasing the funding for the Children’s Trust Fund and the CAN prevention councils would be a crucial step in addressing child abuse and neglect, while assisting law enforcement in breaking the cycle of crime and abuse. It is paramount that programs and services like those offered by the Children’s Trust Fund gets the resources they need to help put children on a path for success, while making our communities the best they can be.
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