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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Defending Childhood Task Force?
The Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence was a national task force commissioned by Attorney General Eric Holder to examine the extent and nature of the problem of childhood exposure to violence in the U.S. and identify policies and promising practices to address it.

Who are the Task Force’s members?
The 13-member Task Force was co-chaired by Joe Torre, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Chairman and founder of the Joe Torre Safe at Home® Foundation, and a witness of domestic violence as a child himself; and Robert Listenbee, Jr., Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. The Task Force was composed of a spectrum of prominent individuals with lifelong commitments to fields that intersect with children’s exposure to violence, including public servants, physicians, researchers, law enforcement professionals, foundation directors, and military officers. See a full list of the Task Force members and their biographies.

What is the Defending Childhood Initiative?
In 2010, Attorney General Holder launched Defending Childhood, a Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative focused on addressing children’s exposure to violence. The goals of the initiative are to prevent children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses, mitigate the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence, and develop knowledge about and increase awareness of this issue. Read more about the Initiative, its history and projects.

What does the Task Force do?
Members of the Task Force studied and examined the issue of children’s exposure to violence through four national hearings. These hearings provided the Task Force members with the opportunity to hear testimony from and ask questions of experts in the field as well as community members, service providers, and others. In addition to the hearings, Task Force staff conducted comprehensive research for the Task Force’s consideration and received additional input from community members, advocates, practitioners, and experts.

Based on this research and information gathering, the Task Force presented its findings, policy and practice recommendations to the Attorney General in a report on December 12, 2012.

How were the Task Force members selected?
The Task Force members were selected after an extensive vetting process by the Department of Justice. The Agency identified and recommended individuals who are knowledgeable about issues relating to children’s exposure to violence in the United States. The members include practitioners, child and family advocates, licensed clinicians, and other subject matter experts. All members are appointed to the Task Force by the Attorney General.

How were the locations for the hearings selected?
In choosing locations for the four Task Force hearings, the Department of Justice sought to maximize the geographic diversity of the hearing locations. The hearing locations represented other types of diversity as well, reflecting the diversity of the communities affected by and the communities’ responses to children’s exposure to violence. Cost and accessibility were also factors in determining the hearing locations.

Are the hearings open to the public?
Each of the four hearings was open to the public and fully compliant with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

Can I read the Task Force’s final report?
Yes. The final report is posted here.

When and where were the hearings held?
The four hearings were held in Baltimore, Maryland on November 29-30, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 31-February 1, 2012, in Miami, Florida on March 19-21, 2012, and Detroit, Michigan, on April 24, 2012. Read more about the hearings.