The Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

According to this report, “exposure to violence is a national crisis that affects approximately two out of every three of our children. Of the 76 million children currently residing in the United States, an estimated 46 million can expect to have their lives touched by violence, crime, abuse, and psychological trauma this year.”

Defending Childhood Report

In 1979, U.S. Surgeon General Julius B. Richmond declared violence a public health crisis of the highest priority, and yet 33 years later that crisis remains. Whether the violence occurs in children’s homes, neighborhoods, schools, playgrounds or playing fields, locker rooms, places of worship, shelters, streets, or in juvenile detention centers, the exposure of children to violence is a uniquely traumatic experience that has the potential to profoundly derail the child’s security, health, happiness, and ability to grow and learn — with effects lasting well into adulthood.

To prepare this report, the Attorney General commissioned a task force of diverse leaders dedicated to protecting children from exposure to violence and to healing those who were exposed. The report calls for action by the federal government, states, tribes, communities, and the private sector across the country to marshal the best available knowledge and all of the resources needed to defend all of our children against exposure to violence.

The Task Force’s recommendations include:

  • Engage youth as leaders and peer experts in all initiatives defending children against violence and its harmful effects.
  • Incorporate evidence-based trauma-informed principles in all applicable federal agency grant requirements.
  • Launch a national initiative to promote professional education and training on the issue of children exposed to violence.
  • Ensure that all children exposed to violence are identified, screened, and assessed.
  • Provide all children exposed to violence access to trauma-informed services and evidence-based trauma-specific treatment.
  • Provide research funding to continue the clinical and scientific development of increasingly effective evidence-based treatments for children exposed to violence.
  • Incentivize healthcare providers and insurance providers to reimburse trauma-focused services and trauma-specific treatment.
  • Expand access to home visiting services for families with children who are exposed to violence, focusing on safety and referral to services.
  • When domestic violence and child sexual or physical abuse co-occur, ensure that the dependency and family courts, the child protection system, and domestic violence programs work together to create protocols and policies that protect children and adult victims.
  • Ensure compliance with the letter and spirit of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).
  • Develop and implement policies to improve the reporting of suspected child sexual abuse in every institution entrusted with the care and nurturing of children.
  • Provide children, parents, schools, and communities with the tools they need to identify and stop bullying and to help children who have been bullied — including the
    bullies themselves — to recover from social, emotional, and school problems.
  • Make trauma-informed screening, assessment, and care the standard in juvenile justice services.
  • Guarantee that all violence-exposed children accused of a crime have legal representation.
  • Help, do not punish, child victims of sex trafficking.

You can download the entire report here.

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