March | April 2013

OJJDP Article in IACP Magazine Emphasizes Law Enforcement's Role in Responding to Child Maltreatment

The Police Chief, cover pageIn an article in the March 2013 issue of The Police Chief, Melodee Hanes, then-Acting Administrator of OJJDP, provided an overview of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative and the vital role law enforcement can play in an effective response to children’s exposure to violence. The magazine is published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), which consists of more than 20,000 members from 100 countries.

Ms. Hanes cited findings from the OJJDP-funded National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence. The survey found that in the previous year:

  • More than one-third of the youth surveyed experienced 2 or more direct victimizations.
  • More than 1 in 10 experienced 5 or more direct victimizations.
  • More than 1 in 75 experienced 10 or more direct victimizations.

In 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood Initiative, which marshals resources across the U.S. Department of Justice to prevent children’s exposure to violence, mitigate the negative effects of exposure when it does occur, and place the topic of children’s exposure to violence front and center in the national conversation.

“Too often, law enforcement, hospitals, schools, and social services agencies do not have the protocols and partnerships in place to coordinate an effective and timely response to children’s exposure to violence,” Ms. Hanes said. “As committed as our law enforcement professionals are, they are not routinely trained in these areas.”

left quoteWe must protect children . . . who are victims of abuse, violence, and crime . . . . Law enforcement is on the front lines of this heroic effort.right quote

—Melodee Hanes,
Principal Deputy Administrator, OJJDP.

To address this problem, OJJDP issued a solicitation in fiscal year 2012 seeking an applicant to provide training and technical assistance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to improve the prevention of, identification of, and response to children’s exposure to violence. Of 26 applicants, IACP was rated the top candidate in peer review and was selected to receive a $750,000 award for a 2-year grant period to expand its training resources to include a focus on children’s exposure to violence.

Ms. Hanes ended her article by thanking the law enforcement community for its dedication to protecting children and ensuring the safety of the communities in which they live. “Children are our nation’s future,” she wrote. “They deserve nothing less.”