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CHILD ABUSE FUNDING SHOULD BE PRIORITY

Every day in this country, four children die and 3,000 more become victims of severe abuse or neglect. Forty percent of these children are under age 6. More than 1 million children are affected every year, and for many, the emotional and physical effects last a lifetime. Child maltreatment is at epidemic rates in our country, and the number of reported incidents is on the rise.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is this nation's premiere child abuse prevention legislation. Programs funded through CAPTA include some of the most innovative and effective programs known for preventing child abuse. But President Bush's 2002 budget request is almost $100 million less than he is authorized to spend for these vital programs.

Bush has requested $72 million for CAPTA programs. In contrast, our nation spends $94 billion each year to pay for the consequences of child abuse - for medical care, foster placement, long-term mental health treatment and more.

By not focusing attention on child abuse prevention, we are squandering our nation's future. Abused children are at greater risk for school failure, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and adult criminality. They are more likely to be violent in their relationships and in their community.

This month, our legislators will be making final decisions on the 2002 budget. Please urge them to provide full funding for all child abuse prevention and treatment programs in the 2002 budget. Make sure they know that protecting our nation's families is a spending priority.

KATHLEEN MENDEZ

Cheektowaga

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