Eighty percent of New Jersey children who died from abuse and neglect over a 5-year period were under 4 years old and nearly half of these babies were known to the state’s child protection system before they died, according to an ACNJ report released today.
“These facts spotlight a tragic truth: Infants and toddlers are more likely to fall victim to abuse and neglect— and more likely to die from that maltreatment,” said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which authored the report. “New Jersey must take stronger steps to protect these very young children from abuse and neglect.”
Trauma at a young age can cause developmental delays and a host of other health and behavioral problems, according to the report, The Littlest Victims: Protecting Babies from Abuse and Neglect.
In New Jersey, children three and under make up the largest group of children involved with the state’s child protection system, now known as the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P).
Today, Advocates for Children of New Jersey called for:
- Mandatory training for child protection staff and the judges and attorneys who handle these cases about the unique needs of infants and toddlers involved in the child protection system;
- Revisions to current policy regarding safety assessments and visitation to more adequately address the specific needs of infants and toddlers; and
- Improved data collection about infants, toddlers and their families who are known to the child protection system.
Read the report.
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