SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Violence and its impact on children is a heartbreaking reality that impacts so many families in California each year.
In 2016 alone for Sacramento County, 13 children died of homicide. Six were related to abuse and neglect, according to a recent report by the Child Abuse Prevention Center.
"What we see in the data consistently over 25 years is that the most vulnerable children are those zero to five. And frankly, those in the first year of life are actually the most vulnerable and most likely to die of a child abuse and neglect homicide," said Sheila Boxley, president and CEO of the Child Abuse Prevention Center (CAP Center).
The near fatalities are also an alarming statistic.
"In a 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, there were 130 victims. Of those, 75 are near fatalities and 55 were homicides," said Boxley.
The greater Sacramento area has seen a recent string of deaths involving minors. The latest was a 10-year-old shot and killed Sunday during what authorities described as a family dispute. A 16-year-old was also killed in a shooting in Arden Arcade Sunday.
Supporting families could be the key to prevention when it comes to children dying by homicide.
"It's about working with the whole family to meet their needs, so that they don't have the stressors that are so difficult from them for them. Whether it's poverty, whether it's mental health, whatever it may be - giving them the supports to be a good whole family and to keep them out of child welfare and the other systems," said Boxley.
Part of that prevention could involve the incomes of families.
"If you increase the minimum wage by $1, you will reduce neglect cases by 10%," said Boxley.
"It's been proven $1 in prevention will have a return on investment of $365. So we know that the cost benefit of doing prevention is really important, even beyond looking at the humanitarian aspects of it," she added.
There are some signs of improvement.
"The good news I can tell you is that when you look in that same period, in 2016, there were six fatalities, child abuse fatalities, over the next three years, there were four per year," said Boxley.
She says everyone has a chance to be a part of prevention.
"The most recent evaluation in Sacramento County, in home visitation, for as little as eight hours of prevention in home services, a family is 50% less likely to enter child welfare," said Boxley. "Eight hours can make a difference, so yes, prevention is the cure."
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