BY ATTORNEY GENERAL JOHN ASHCROFT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General John Ashcroft today held the Department’s first symposium to address domestic violence, together with Deputy Secretary Claude Allen of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Symposium affirmed the Administration’s commitment to enhancing the nation’s response to violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The Attorney General stated, “Our children absorb the values we pass on to them; and they in turn pass these values on to their children. But when families are wracked by violence and abuse, values are corrupted. The messages transmitted by parents are messages of violence, cruelty, and powerlessness. We must work together to ensure that victims have the opportunity to escape violence and to transform their lives and the lives of their children.”
Deputy Secretary Claude Allen added, “Domestic violence is an issue that affects families, specifically women and children. And serving families is what we are all about at the Department of Health and Human Services.” Deputy Secretary Allen discussed HHS’ programs to ensure that “victims of domestic violence can find the support and healing they need to rebuild their lives.”
Organized by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Violence Against Women Office (VAWO), Violence Against Women: A Symposium on Domestic Violence focused on the causes, effects, and societal beliefs relating to domestic violence. More than 100 federal officials, victim advocates, and other experts gathered to hear a discussion of domestic violence issues by the Attorney General, HHS Deputy Secretary Claude Allen, OJP Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels, and Director of the Violence Against Women Office, Diane Stuart. Speakers addressed various aspects of identifying causes of, responding to and preventing domestic abuse, sexual assault and stalking and responded to questions from the audience.
Speaking at the symposium, Assistant Attorney General for OJP, Deborah J. Daniels reiterated the Attorney General’s commitment by stating, “With the help of our federal initiatives, and the work of criminal justice officials, victim advocates, and people like you all across the country, we have made considerable progress in addressing domestic violence and other violence against women. But we still have a long way to go to end the terror and pain caused by violence in our homes and communities.”
The Attorney General and Deputy Secretary Allen also used the occasion of the symposium to introduce the new members of the recently re-chartered National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. The Attorney General charged the Committee with the responsibility of guiding the Departments of Justice and HHS in developing promising practices and innovative programs to prevent domestic violence and other violence against women. The advisory committee, now entering its eighth year, also plays a critical role in increasing public awareness about violence against women and in helping communities mobilize and direct their resources.
Data reported by OJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show that almost 700,000 incidents of domestic violence are documented each year. FBI data further show that in the last 25 years almost 57,000 individuals have been killed in domestic violence situations. Since the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, DOJ and HHS have instituted programs to end this violence, provide services to women victims and their families, and improve the criminal justice system’s response.
For more information and resources related to domestic violence, children and families consult the website for the Department of Health and Human Services at www.hhs.gov/. Additional information about initiatives involving violence against women and other OJP programs is available on OJP’s website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov or by calling the National Criminal Justice Reference Service toll-free at 1-800/851-3420.
Media should direct calls to Angela Harless on 202-307-0703.