WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence convened its first of four public hearings to gather expert and community testimony on the epidemic of children’s exposure to violence. Recent research shows that more than 60 percent of American children 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 and one in 16 has been victimized sexually.
The task force will hold three additional hearings this year in Albuquerque, N.M., Miami and Detroit. The task force will identify promising practices, programming and community strategies used to prevent and respond to children’s exposure to violence and will also issue a final report to the attorney general presenting its findings and comprehensive policy recommendations. The report will serve as a blueprint for preventing children’s exposure to violence and for reducing the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence across the United States.
“As a former judge and U.S. attorney, and now as the Attorney General and the father of three teenagers, protecting and empowering our children is both a personal and professional commitment," said Attorney General Holder. “I have made protecting the most vulnerable among us – including our children – a core priority of the Justice Department and this task force brings together a wealth of experience and talent to help us find ways to improve our response to the growing problem of children exposed to violence.”
The task force is composed of 13 leading experts from diverse fields and perspectives, including practitioners, child and family advocates, academic experts and licensed clinicians. Joe Torre, Major League Baseball executive vice president of baseball operations, 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, serve as co-chairs of the task force. The full list of Task force members is located at: http://www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood/tf-members.html .
“Unprecedented numbers of children are exposed to violence, both as victims and witnesses, and they bring their experiences, feelings, learned behaviors and attitudes into their schools and communities,” said Torre. “This isn’t just a family issue; it’s also a community and national public health issue. The Defending Childhood Task Force has the welfare of our most vulnerable children at its center, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to make a significant contribution to solving this urgent problem.”
“Children who experience violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, fail in school, suffer from mental health problems and engage in delinquent and criminal behavior,” said Listenbee. “The attorney general’s task force creates a tremendous opportunity for our nation to stop this epidemic and give our children the safety and well-being they deserve, while creating a healthier society for everyone.”
Speakers at today’s hearing at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore, included U.S. Attorney General Holder; Sonja Sohn, founder and CEO of ReWired for Change and star of HBO’s “The Wire”; Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation; Nigel Cox, chair of the SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) National Advisory Board; and Baltimore and area residents who have experienced family, community and other types of violence.
Details on future hearings will be available on the Defending Childhood website: www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood .
The task force is part of the attorney general’s Defending Childhood Initiative and is staffed by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), a nonprofit research and consulting agency.
To learn more about the task force, visit: www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood/task-force.html .
About the Defending Childhood Initiative and the Task Force
For more information about Attorney General Holder’s Defending Childhood initiative, the Defending Childhood Task Force and upcoming hearings, please visit www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood .
About National Council on Crime and Delinquency
NCCD promotes just and equitable social systems for individuals, families and communities through research, public policy and practice. For more information about NCCD, please visit www.nccd-crc.org .