September | October 2016

Department of Justice Launches Changing Minds Public Awareness Campaign To Address Children’s Exposure to Violence

Defending Childhood logoOn October 19, 2016, the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the launch of the first national campaign to raise awareness, teach skills, and inspire public action to address children’s exposure to violence and childhood trauma. The “Changing Minds” campaign will motivate teachers, coaches, counselors, health professionals, law enforcement officers, social workers, and others who regularly interact with children to take meaningful action in supporting children who may be affected.

Developed through DOJ’s Defending Childhood Initiative, which is administered by OJJDP, the national education campaign features digital and print content intended to reach adults who interact with children and youth in grades K–12. “The path of future health and success is determined at an early age,” said Karol V. Mason, Assistant Attorney General of DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs. “The resources made available through Changing Minds show us the steps we can take to make sure that violence does not dictate the terms of a young person’s life.”

The campaign’s website, ChangingMindsNOW.org, includes actor portrayals of individuals who were exposed as children to violence in their homes and communities, and reunions with the adults who helped them. “Continued exposure to traumatic events is correlated with adverse health, educational, and social outcomes. Consistent interaction with a caring and supportive adult can significantly contribute to resilience and healing,” said OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee.

The website also features an informational video that explores the science behind the impact of violence on children’s brain development. The campaign was created in collaboration with Futures Without Violence, the Ad Council, and Wunderman, a digital advertising agency, that developed the campaign pro bono.

 

Futures Without Violence, a national health and social justice nonprofit organization working to end violence against women and children, has partnered with OJJDP since DOJ released the compelling findings of the first National Survey of Children’s Exposure to Violence in 2009. The study found that the majority of the children surveyed were exposed to violence in the year prior to the study, either directly or indirectly (i.e., as a witness to a violent act; by learning of a violent act against a family member, neighbor, or close friend; or from a threat against their home or school).

 

“Domestic violence was common in my home, but I was very fortunate to have a caring and supportive high school counselor who created the opportunity for me to travel abroad for a summer and who arranged for me to meet the recruiter that led to my Harvard College career,” said Administrator Listenbee. “We want to empower millions of teachers, counselors, coaches, police officers, faith leaders, and family friends to develop stable and supportive relationships with children who have experienced violence and trauma and to help them heal and find their way in our complex world.”

Resources:

To access all publications in OJJDP’s National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence series, visit OJJDP’s website.

Learn more about the OJJDP-led Defending Childhood Initiative by visiting the Justice Department’s website.