The Board of Selectmen has thrown their support behind a proposal from resident Raymond Fowler to institute a comprehensive child abuse prevention program in North Haven.
"This is an issue we can really do something about," Fowler said during a presentation at last Thursday's Selectmen's meeting. "When it comes to child abuse, we can take steps as a community to address both prevention and cure."
Fowler first approached the BoS with his proposal last year, and was asked by Mike Freda to research measures and programs that the town could institute.
Fowler's efforts appear to have paid off.
"We're going to do it," Freda said following Thursday's presentation. "I'm totally on-board."
The First Selectman suggested that efforts to formalize the program could be channeled through the Department of Community Services and Harbor Health Services. A separate inquiry with Superintendent Robert Cronin could help to foster a companion program in North Haven's public schools.
According to Fowler's presentation, 83% of child abusers are not mentally ill, but need support systems to check their tendencies towards violence and neglect.
"Power and control are the root causes of most cases of child abuse," Fowler said. "When adults feel like their lives are spinning out of control, they sometimes take out that stress on their kids. This behavior can become a habit."
Complicating the issue is the fact that many children are reluctant to report their abusers—whether they be parents, acquaintances, or authority figures like teachers and coaches—to the police. Fowler suggested that child abuse may be one of the most under-reported crimes in the country.
By establishing resources to tackle the problem head-on in the form of hotlines, counseling services, and education at multiple grade-levels, supporters of the program hope to make information and assistance for abused children more widely available.
What do you think are the best ways to prevent child abuse? What programs would you like to see instituted in North Haven?