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U.S. Department of Justice Awards $2 Million to City of Boston for Defending Childhood Initiative
Grants Awarded to Six Communities Addressing Children's Exposure to Violence

NOVEMBER 16, 2011

BOSTON – The Justice Department awarded the City of Boston $2 million through the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative to address the complex issues of children’s exposure to violence.  Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the initiative to prevent children’s exposure to violence as either victims or witnesses, mitigate the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence, and develop knowledge about and increase awareness of this issue.

In 2010, Boston was selected as part of a multi-year demonstration program to develop and implement multi-disciplinary plans that specifically address prevention, intervention, treatment and response strategies to address children’s exposure to violence.  After a competitive grant process amongst the selected Defending Childhood sites, the City of Boston was awarded $2 million over a period of two years to support its strategy.

“The cities we have awarded grants to today have shown us - through their front-line efforts - real energy and progress in the fight to prevent, reduce and combat childhood exposure to violence,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Every day children across America are exposed to violence in their homes, in their schools, and in their communities. Through renewing and refocusing our efforts to serve our nation’s most vulnerable and most distressed children we can transform the country we love for the better. I applaud the City of Boston’s leadership in this area, and I look forward to the good work they will continue to do with enhanced resources.”

Last year, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Division of Violence Prevention, in partnership with the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center, convened a collaborative of over 45 diverse organizations and agencies to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and develop a multi-year strategy to prevent and reduce the impact of exposure to violence in homes, schools, and communities by children under 17.  The strategy builds on Boston’s strengths – its rich network of government and nonprofit agencies serving children, a strong public health infrastructure, and a legacy of innovation. 

Funding provided by the Department will be used, in part, to provide education and training for individuals, such as youth workers, teachers and mental health clinicians, working with children and families to prevent, identify and respond to childhood exposure to violence.  In addition, sub-grants and training to neighborhood organizations will be provided to implement programming to strengthen families as well as to support youth leaders for the promotion of healthy relationships and prevention of violence among their peers.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Boston’s Defending Childhood team went to great lengths to examine its systems and identify those areas that required greater attention. They have partnered with some of the most knowledgeable, enthusiastic and committed stakeholders in the community.  I am thrilled that their efforts have been recognized nationally.”

“Children’s exposure to violence is a public health crisis in Boston and preventing it requires partnerships across all organizations and institutions in our community,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “This award strengthens our focus on prevention and builds on strong partnerships between public health, law enforcement, and the community. This grant will help us continue the important work we have already started to prevent violence and reduce its impact, especially in the hardest hit neighborhoods - Roxbury, Mattapan, and Dorchester.”

The Department of Justice awarded six sites $10 million this year to implement these strategies. The sites are:

  • City of Boston ($2 million)
  • Chippewa Cree Tribe, Mont. ($1 million)
  • City of Grand Forks , N.D. ($2 million)
  • Cuyahoga County ($2 million)
  • Rosebud Sioux Tribe, S.D. ($1 million)
  • Shelby County, Tenn. ($2 million)

    In addition to the demonstration sites, 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.

    More information about this initiative can be found at



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