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About the Initiative

Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010, to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The Attorney General has been personally and professionally committed to this issue for many years, dating back to early in his career when he served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and through his tenure as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.

Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

This problem affects each one of us.  Effectively addressing it must become our shared concern and our shared cause.  Building on lessons learned from previously funded research and programs such as Safe Start, the Child Development-Community Policing Program, and the Greenbook Initiative, Defending Childhood leverages existing resources across DOJ to focus on preventing, addressing, reducing, and more fully understanding childhood exposure to violence.

In 2010, DOJ awarded grants to eight sites in cities and tribal communities around the country to develop strategic plans for comprehensive community-based efforts that will further demonstrate the goals of this initiative. Each of these sites received additional support in 2011 to help launch, sustain, and expand programs and organizations focused on the development of community-based solutions to address the problem.  Four sites will be supported to develop comprehensive demonstration projects.

In addition to the demonstration program grants, the Department of Justice is committing additional funding for research, evaluation, public awareness and training for professional members and affiliates of national organizations through the initiative.

Our Federal partners include:  the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office on Violence Against Women, and the Office of Justice Programs.

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