May | June 2012

Defending Childhood Grantees Meet To Learn and To Share Strategies for Addressing Children’s Exposure to Violence

Defending Childhood logo.Grantees from eight demonstration sites in the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative gathered in Washington, DC, on May 15–17, 2012, for a series of presentations, peer-to-peer exchanges, and dialog with Justice Department leadership. The grantees are preparing to implement comprehensive, community-based strategies to address children's exposure to violence.

Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs; Melodee Hanes, Acting Administrator, OJJDP; Bea Hanson, Acting Director, Office on Violence Against Women; and Catherine Pierce, Associate Administrator, Child Protection Division, OJJDP, provided opening remarks.

"Children's exposure to violence is a complicated, multifaceted problem that requires a sophisticated and targeted approach,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Leary. "Each of you brings ideas and experiences to the table that can be useful to others as they brainstorm solutions. Our goal here is to facilitate the exchange of ideas and help you tap into your strengths."

left quoteI had no idea our community needed to know [all of] this. . . . I didn’t know how much I had to learn from a federally funded project.”right quote

—Participant, Defending Childhood All-Sites Meeting

Organized by OJJDP's Child Protection Division and Futures Without Violence, the grantees' meeting featured presentations and workshop sessions on a range of topics, including fostering collaboration among child-serving agencies, working with youth and families involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, the vital role of judges in addressing children's exposure to violence, trauma-informed care, community organizing, the uses of data, positive messaging for social change, working with immigrant and refugee communities, and the need for culturally sensitive programs and services.

Defending Childhood's eight demonstration sites are the city of Boston, MA; the city of Portland, ME; the Chippewa Cree Tribe, MT; the city of Grand Forks, ND; the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, OH; the Multnomah County Department of Human Services, OR; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, SD; and Shelby County, TN.

Attorney General Eric Holder launched Defending Childhood in September 2010 to prevent, address, reduce, and more fully understand childhood exposure to violence.

According to the OJJDP-sponsored 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence, nearly one-half of children and adolescents were assaulted at least once in the past year, and more than 1 in 10 were injured in an assault. More than 60 percent of the children surveyed were exposed to violence, crime, and abuse during the same period, either as victims or witnesses.