On April 16–17, 2014, a task force advisory committee appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder held the third of four public hearings to examine the impact of violence on children in Indian country.
The hearing, which took place in Fort Lauderdale, FL, focused on tribal children’s exposure to violence in the community as well as promising approaches to address the problem. It included panel discussions on the Indian Child Welfare Act, gangs and sex trafficking in urban and rural American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and violence in tribal schools.
“American Indian and Alaska Native children encounter violence and trauma at unusually high rates, and the effects of this exposure can be devastating,” said OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee in his opening remarks. “The information and ideas being gathered at this hearing will guide our efforts to help tribal leaders and families protect their kids.”
The Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence is composed of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts on American Indian/Alaska Native studies, child health and trauma, and child welfare. The 13-member advisory committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer and singer Joanne Shenandoah.
The Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence is a key component of Attorney General Holder’s Defending Childhood Initiative to prevent and reduce children’s trauma from experiencing violence as victims or witnesses.
The advisory committee held its first public hearing in Bismarck, ND, on December 9, 2013, and the second in Scottsdale, AZ, on February 11, 2014. The final public hearing will be held in Anchorage, AK, on June 11–12.
A press release about the hearing and more information about the Attorney General's Defending Childhood Initiative and the Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence are available on the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
To learn more about OJJDP's tribal youth initiatives, visit the Office's Web site.