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A Message from the Attorney General on the Defending Childhood Initiative

November 21, 2011

I am happy to tell you about an important upcoming event in the fight to prevent and reduce children’s exposure to violence in the United States.  Last month we established the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence, composed of leading experts from diverse fields and perspectives.  The Task Force will spend the next year examining the extent and nature of the problem of childhood exposure to violence in the U.S. and identifying policies and promising practices to address it. Now we are pleased to announce that the first hearing of the Defending Childhood Task Force will take place in Baltimore on November 29 - 30, at the University of Maryland law school.  Other hearings will be held over the next several months in Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit.  Look on the Defending Childhood Task Force website for details about the hearings and information about community listening sessions and other opportunities to give your input. We expect these hearings to inform and guide the Defending Childhood Initiative’s work to ensure the safety and health of all our children.  In the past few years the Justice Department has been working with leading researchers to take an in-depth look at the problem of children exposed to violence, and what we learned has been a wake-up call, and warning bell, for all of us. We learned that the majority of our kids - more than 60 percent - have been exposed to crime, abuse, and violence -- many in their own homes. Ten percent of children in the United States have suffered some form of abuse or neglect; one in sixteen has been victimized sexually. And both direct and indirect exposure to violence is having a profound negative impact on the mental and emotional development of young people across the country. For me, this issue has been both a personal and professional concern for decades. As a judge, as a U.S. Attorney, and as the Deputy Attorney General, protecting children at risk and in need was at the forefront of my work. Today, as our nation's Attorney General and as a parent, it remains a top priority. For more information about the Defending Childhood Initiative, visit justice.gov/defendingchildhood.

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Updated April 11, 2017