AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION
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.
There is a prevention program throughout the state called 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 holdover 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 percent 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. 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."
Because gas prices vary across county lines, state Rep. William Tong, a Democrat representing Stamford proposed H.B. 5099. This bill would provide funding to the office of the Attorney General to investigate gasoline pricing in Connecticut.
State Rep. Larry Cafero, a Republican representing Norwalk, together with Rep. Themis Klarides, a Republican representing Woodbridge, Orange and Derby, and Rep. Vincent Candelora, a Republican representing East Haven, North Branford and Wallingford, teamed up to propose several pieces of proposed legislation seek to address Connecticut's job situation.
Among the proposed bills are:
- HB 5174 -- to promote new business and job creation throughout the state
- HB 5175 -- to eliminate the corporate business tax surcharge
Getting the unions back to the negotiating table might not be an option. Instead some GOP lawmakers are trying a different tact.
State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican representing Bethel, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton, proposed cutting state employee salaries by 10 percent for the next two years.
Cafero, Klarides and Candelora propose HB 5176 to create parity between state and private wages and salaries and provide savings to the state. They also propose HB 5177 to create parity between state and private pension plans.