U.S. Attorney’s Office To Sponsor Two-Day Conference Highlighting Needs Of Children Exposed To Violence-More Than 250 Professionals Expected For Training And Discussion-
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is sponsoring a two-day conference this week designed to assist professionals who work with children exposed to violence, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.
The conference, made possible through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, will be held June 5 and June 6, 2013. It will include workshops, panel discussions and presentations for victim service providers, law enforcement officers, and attorneys regarding strategies for working with children and adolescents exposed to violence. Presenters have been drawn from the fields of mental health, law enforcement, social services, prosecution and the judiciary.
U.S. Attorney Machen and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary are among those who will address the attendees. More than 250 people are expected to attend the event.
The conference sessions will include training in investigating and prosecuting cases involving traumatized youths, as well as discussions about effective therapy and other strategies to help young people cope with the after-effects of violence.
Every year, the lives of millions of children and adolescents in the United States are affected by exposure to violence as they become victims or witnesses to homicides and other violent crimes. Many are murdered or assaulted by loved ones, acquaintances or strangers, and many are caught in the crossfire of gang or community violence.
The consequences of this problem are significant and widespread.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 perpetuating a cycle of violence as victims or offenders.
Addressing the needs of children exposed to violence is a key priority for Attorney General Eric Holder, who launched the Defending Childhood Initiative to address the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and witnesses.
According to the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, exposure to violence is a “crisis that affects two out of every three of our children. Of the 76 million children currently residing in the United States, violence, crime, abuse and psychological trauma, touch the lives of an estimated 46 million each year.”
“We have few greater moral obligations than protecting our community’s most vulnerable and distressed children,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Too many of our children have their innocence shattered and their futures forever changed by exposure to violence. As the U.S. Attorney and as a father, I am excited about this opportunity to come together and discuss how we can better serve and defend our children.”
“True justice depends on whether we’re meeting the needs and honoring the rights of victims and witnesses – especially when those victims and witnesses are our children,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leary. “Through the Defending Childhood Initiative and the task force’s efforts, we are working to improve our understanding of children’s exposure to violence and support efforts to translate that knowledge into practice.”
This week’s conference will be held at the campus of Catholic University of America in Northeast Washington.
The planning committee includes the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health; the District of Columbia Public Schools; the District of Columbia Department of Child and Family Services; the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing; Safe Shores: the D.C. Children’s Advocacy Center, and Child and Adolescent Mobile Psychiatric Services (ChAMPS).
Conference partners include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC); the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA); Fair Girls; the Multidisciplinary Team for Child Sexual and Physical Abuse in the District of Columbia; Children’s National Medical Center; the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and Break the Cycle.