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Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Bea Hanson Speaksat the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention Boston Site Visit


Boston, MA
United States

Good Morning. I want to join Acting Associate Attorney Tony West in thanking Mayor Menino for his steadfast leadership in addressing youth violence and for organizing today’s events.

W orking to end violence in families and communities remains one of the Attorney General’s highest priorities. Every year, millions of children and adolescents across the United States are victimized and exposed to violence in their homes and communities, and often suffer severe long-term emotional and physical consequences. When these problems remain unaddressed, children are at higher risk for school failure, substance abuse, repeat victimization, and, perhaps, most disturbingly, perpetrating violent behavior later in their own lives.

By the age of 17, at least 27% of children nationwide have witnessed domestic violence in their own families. And, we know that exposure to domestic and sexual violence as a child is a significant contributing factor to youth gang violence. Research tells us that early identification of children exposed to violence and early intervention can be effective in countering the effects of violence.

The grant programs authorized under the Violence Against Women Act are based on the assumption that solutions must start with the community. While OVW supports models that we know are effective -- each community has its own strengths, faces unique challenges and must mold solutions to meet the needs of their own unique community.

Boston has a number of special projects that embody OVW’s mission of building strong relationships and creating a coordinated community response to addressing violence against women.

As an OVW Engaging Men and Boys grantee, the Boston Public Health Commission and Close to Home is developing and implementing a localized social marketing campaign in five low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhoods to engage boys and young men in addressing dating violence.

The Boston Multi-Cultural Advocacy Support Project , a collaboration between the City of Boston and five non-profit organizations, is centrally located in the Family Justice Center . This project supports three full-time civilian police advocates based in Boston's busiest police stations to assist victims of domestic violence with safety planning, legal advocacy and support services.

The Juntas Task Force, a project of three community-based organizations, is working to increase culturally competent services for Portuguese victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

To further support national efforts to address youth violence, OVW is excited to announce the release of our new Consolidated Youth Program solicitation, which is anticipated to be available by the end of August. This program will support comprehensive intervention and prevention programs addressing violence against children and youth, including strategies to encourage men and boys to work as allies in combating violence against women and girls.

As we work to help keep our children safe, we cannot view youth violence and violence against women as separate and distinct, but, instead, as intertwined. To realize our vision for safe and healthy communities, we must start with safe and healthy homes. This is not easy work. We can only make a difference if we work together, rooted in addressing the needs of our own unique communities – like the neighborhood here in Dorchester. Working together, we can make a difference. Thank you.

Updated September 27, 2016