2. Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Research to date clearly confirms that children who live in families with a history of child maltreatment are at a heightened risk for juvenile delinquency and problem behaviors including mental health problems, low academic achievement, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and/or violent criminal behavior in later years (Kelley, Thornberry, & Smith, 1997). Committed to breaking the cycle of child violence and victimization, the Coordinating Council focused a number of important activities on advancing our understanding of the link between child maltreatment and juvenile delinquency.

In February 1998, the Coordinating Council established the Interagency Working Group on Child Maltreatment and Juvenile Delinquency. Intended to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange among practitioners and agency representatives on the link between child maltreatment and delinquency, the Working Group has planned a number of State Forums that will bring together State and local legislators, representatives of child welfare, law enforcement, juvenile justice, public and mental health, and education, among others, to foster collaboration, identify promising strategies and ongoing initiatives, and encourage community-based assessment and planning for victims of child abuse.

To foster a unified and cooperative approach to juvenile delinquency prevention, OJJDP's Missing and Exploited Children's Program (MECP) awarded $2.4 million to State and local law enforcement agencies for the development of coordinated plans for combating Internet Crimes Against Children. Recipients are using funds to develop case management systems, formulate collaborative response protocols, secure investigative training and equipment, and support task forces and representatives from law enforcement, victim services, child protective services, and other agencies. The MECP also funded a "cyber tipline," a hotline for citizens to call and report information on computer-assisted sexual exploitation of children.

The Council also continued to support in 1998 a number of other important cooperative prevention programs and activities:

  • David Olds' Nurse Home Visitation Program -- a prenatal and early childhood home visitation program for low-income, first time mothers.

  • Safe Kids/Safe Streets: Community Approaches to Reducing Abuse and Neglect and Preventing Delinquency -- a grant program designed to break the cycle of child and adolescent abuse and neglect through system reform and accountability, development of a continuum of services, and prevention education.

  • Strengthening Services for Chemically-Involved Children, Youth and Families -- a training and technical assistance program for child welfare professionals to address the multiple needs of families with alcohol and other drug problems while simultaneously delivering services that protect and promote the health and well-being of children.

  • The Portable Guide Series -- booklets that provide law enforcement and other professionals basic information on the most critical aspects of investigations of child abuse and neglect.

These collaborative grant programs, capacity building efforts, and information dissemination activities bolster the ability at the local level to help break the cycle of violence and victimization, thus preventing later juvenile delinquency.

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1998 Report to Congress: Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs OJJDP Report