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Defending Childhood: Every Child Deserves a Safe Home, School and Community

March 16, 2012
The following posts appears courtesy of Joe Torre. It originally appeared as an op-ed in today's Miami Herald. Mr. Torre serves as a co-chair on the Attorney General's Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The Task Force is part of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, a project that addresses the epidemic levels of exposure to violence faced by our nation’s children.
 

 Throughout my 50-year career in baseball, I've been fortunate to shake the hands of thousands of fans. So many people have graciously shared with me their lifelong love of our national pastime and expressed an appreciation for my small part in it. It's been wonderfully gratifying. However, most fans probably don't know how my life in baseball really got started. I was the youngest of five kids who grew up in an abusive home. My father, a New York City police officer, physically abused my mother and emotionally abused us all. My older siblings protected me from the violence, but they couldn't shield me from the fear. Baseball became my shelter -- the place to which I escaped to feel safe. I didn't know until decades later how much the way I felt about myself had been shaped by that fear. More than just fear, though, I felt shame, as well. As a kid, I was embarrassed by the belief that my house was the only one where things like this were happening. I worried that I had done something to cause the problem, and felt ashamed that I couldn't stop it. As an adult, it took counseling for me to see myself as the innocent child I really had been, and to understand how deeply the violence I had witnessed affected me. Of course, it isn't just my house where abuse has occurred. Every year, millions of children are affected by violence, and over three million experience it in their own homes. Right here in Miami, the tragic case of Deanna Beauchamp and her sons has captured virtually everyone's attention. But, we cannot wait for headlines like this to motivate us to act. Our children are our treasure, and we must do better -- much better -- to protect them. That is why my wife, Ali, and I started the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, which provides education and safe rooms in middle schools for children caught in an abusive environment. It's also why I am honored to serve, along with Robert Listenbee, Jr., as co-chair of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Defending Childhood Initiative. In the past few months, our Task Force has heard, in Baltimore and Albuquerque, from experts on children's exposure to violence. They have included service providers, researchers, legal and medical professionals and members of the local community. On March 20, at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center, we will convene to listen to the experiences and expertise of Miami citizens, who are also working on this crucial issue. We are eager to learn from them. After our final hearing in April, to be held in Detroit, we will make recommendations to the Attorney General on how our nation, and all of us, can work together to prevent, reduce and treat children's exposure to violence. Our recommendations will be issued in a report in late 2012. Our goal is to create lasting, positive change for our nation's kids, and to demonstrate the role all of us can play. Every child deserves a safe home, a safe school and a safe community. To make this a reality, we must recognize that all children are our children, and that we are all responsible to one another. I hope you'll join me and the Defending Childhood Task Force in Miami on March 20, as we try to make a meaningful difference in this critical issue for our youth and for our country. For more information visit justice.gov/defendingchildhood.

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Updated March 3, 2017