New Reports on Violence Prevention Say Home Visits Can Reduce Child Abuse, But Finds Insufficient Scientific Evidence to Determine Whether Firearm Laws Impact Rates of Violence
The two newest sets of findings from the Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) add new depth to what is known about strategies to prevent violence. Information released today in one set of findings indicates that home visitations by trained personnel play an effective role in the reduction of child maltreatment, including abuse and/or neglect. In the other findings, there is insufficient scientific evidence on whether firearms laws have impact on violence rates.
These two findings stem from reports issued today by The Task Force on Community Preventive Services, published in the October 3, 2003 edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR).
"It is critical that our public health responses to violence be based on the best available science. The two reviews released today offer substantial support for the use of early childhood home visitation for the prevention of child abuse, and indicate that we do not yet have sufficient evidence about firearms laws to determine whether or not they affect rates of violence,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, M.D., MPH, MBA, chairman of the Task Force on Community Prevention Services. “This information provides both a specific approach to reduce violence as well as identifying areas of additional needed research."
“Child maltreatment is a tragedy with far-reaching effects on our society. Besides child maltreatment hurting our children, abused and neglected children are at greater risk when they become adults to be violent or suffer from severe chronic illnesses later in life because of this physical or psychological abuse” said Sue Binder, M.D., director of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "The scientific evidence strongly suggests that home visitation by trained personnel offers the support parents need to provide safe homes for their children.”
The task force recommends home visits be considered for families at risk for maltreatment of children. Studies reviewed by the group suggest that approximately 40 percent of maltreatment episodes might be prevented through programs of early childhood home visits. Families considered at high risk of child maltreatment include those with low birth weight infants, or with single, young, or low-income mothers.
Home-visitation programs include training of parent(s) on prenatal and infant care, training on parenting, child abuse and neglect prevention, family planning assistance, development of problem solving and life skills for parents, and linkage with community services.
The Task Force review of the effects of various laws showed insufficient evidence to conclude whether firearms laws impact rates of violence.
Among the areas under task force review were: bans on specific firearms or ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners, “shall issue” concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, zero tolerance for firearms in schools, and combinations of firearm laws.
A finding of “insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness” means that, based on the current body of literature, the Task Force is unable to determine whether the intervention was effective or not. The task force agreed that additional scientific studies relating to these interventions might help to provide clearer answers.
The task force is a nonfederal panel of health-care and community-based prevention experts supported by the CDC. It directs systematic reviews of scientific research across the entire spectrum of public health issues and makes practice and research recommendations based on its findings.
The full report is available on the Web at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr. More information about the Community Guide (including links to a variety of resources) is available at http://www.thecommunityguide.org.
Full findings will be published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2004.
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