At least six out of 10 children who have been sexually abused suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, according to the state Department of Children and Families (DCF). As such the DCF will use a $3.2 million federal grant to improve the way the agency, community-based clinics and social workers statewide handle children affected by trauma in all its forms.
DCF Commissioner Joette Katz introduced a five-year program to an audience of human-service providers Friday in the Old Judiciary room at the Capitol.
Child-protective agencies and treatment centers across the county deal every day with children who have witnessed violence, lost a parent to death or prison, been physically or emotionally abused, been abandoned, or have been removed from their home. Yet Katz said the agencies have been slow in developing programs that specifically address this kind of pain.
While DCF goes after, there is a prevention program through out the state Nurturing Families Network. The free and voluntary program provides in-home and telephone parenting education and support for first time parents, at risk families to prevent abuse and neglect.
A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests infants experience the highest rates of child abuse. In most cases, the abuse is linked to families in poverty situations due to financial stress and a lack of parental education.
“We have more families now than ever before,” said Helma Gregorich, manger for Nurturing Families at the non-profit Family Centers in Stamford.
Family Centers works with Stamford Hospital and Greenwich Hospital to identify at-risk, first-time families. It’s a confidential program and it also gathers information and data to determine its effectiveness.
“There is improvement in parental well being, they feel more connected and more competent,” Gregorich said. “Eighty percent of the mothers who participate said they are thankful to have learned positive discipline. That means no spanking, no shaking, no lashing out. That’s a lot of parents.”
The Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is considering SB 115 “An Act Concerning the Military Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.” The proposal, a hold over from last session, would provide confidentiality for disclosures made by military personnel who are victims of sexual assault to military sexual assault advocates.
It’s timely given the recent comments by Fox News contributor Liz Trotta regarding the Pentagon’s report that said there has been a 64 percent increase of violent sexual assaults committed by army personnel in the past six years.
“I think they have actually discovered there is a difference between men and women. And the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a 64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect? These people are in close contact, the whole airing of this issue has never been done by Congress, it’s strictly been a question of pressure from the feminists,” Trotta said.
It’s that kind of thinking that makes SB 115 relevant, said state Sen. Carlo Leone, a Democrat representing Stamford and Darien in the 27th Senate District. Leone, who co-chairs the Veterans Committee, said, “Usually the Federal government doesn’t act, or it’s too lengthy a process. The state can act first and that can spur the nation to action.”