More than 60 percent of the Nation's youth have been exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly by witnessing a violent act; learning of a violent act against a family member, neighbor, or close friend; or experiencing a threat against their home and school. The types of violence children were exposed to included assault with a weapon and/or injury, sexual victimization, child maltreatment, and dating violence. Nearly 1 in 2 were physically assaulted at least once in the past year, with more than 1 in 10 injured in an assault. These are just a few of the disturbing facts emerging from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), the most comprehensive study of its kind. The NatSCEV study was funded by OJJDP's Safe Start initiative and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On October 7, the Department of Justice released the new OJJDP Bulletin, Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, which summarizes the findings of the pioneering NatSCEV study. The availability of the Bulletin was announced in a press conference by Jeff Slowikowski, OJJDP's Acting Administrator; David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire; Kristen Kracke, OJJDP's Safe Start Initiative Coordinator and Program Coordinator; and Rebecca T. Leeb, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who was in Chicago on October 7 to meet with local officials, parents, and students to discuss the fatal beating of Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old honor-roll student, referred to the results of the NatSCEV study as “staggering.”
“Those numbers are astonishing, and they are unacceptable,” Holder said. “We simply cannot stand for an epidemic of violence that robs our youth of their childhood and perpetuates a cycle in which today's victims become tomorrow's criminals.”
NatSCEV is the first comprehensive attempt to measure children's exposure to all types of violence in the home, school, and community across age groups from birth to age 17 and the first attempt to measure the cumulative exposure to violence over a child's lifetime. The reports of lifetime exposure indicate how certain types of exposure change and accumulate as a child grows up.
In interviews conducted by the University of New Hampshire's (UNH's) Crimes Against Children Research Center between January and May 2008, NatSCEV gathered data on both past-year and lifetime exposure to violence across a number of categories, including physical assault, bullying, sexual victimization, child maltreatment, dating violence, and witnessed and indirect victimization.
Following are just a few more of the NatSCEV findings:
Reports of lifetime exposure to violence were generally about one-third to one-half higher than reports of past-year exposure. Nearly seven in eight children (more than 86 percent) who reported being exposed to violence during their lifetime also reported being exposed to violence during the last year, which indicated that these children were at ongoing risk of victimization.OJJDP will produce a series of bulletins jointly with CDC to highlight the findings from NatSCEV. UNH researchers will examine a range of issues from the survey data such as co-occurrence of family violence, risk factors for exposure to violence in the community, multiple victimization, and correlates of victimization and mental health. The Bulletin series will highlight key findings from these various analyses for practitioners, researchers, and policymakers working on behalf of youth and families experiencing or at risk of violence.
OJJDP's Decade-Long Commitment to Preventing and Reducing the Impacts of Children's Exposure to Violence
For more than 10 years, OJJDP has been a national leader in addressing the issue of children's exposure to violence. Under the leadership of then Deputy Attorney General Holder in June 1999, OJJDP launched the Safe Start initiative to broaden knowledge about and promote community investment in evidence-based strategies for reducing the impact of children's exposure to violence. The initiative's Safe Start Center serves as a national resource for information and training to communities implementing these strategies.
The Safe Start initiative is expanding partnerships among family- and youth-serving agencies such as early childhood education/development, health, mental health, child welfare, family support, substance abuse prevention/intervention, domestic violence/crisis intervention, law enforcement, the courts, and legal services.
Each component of the Safe Start initiative is designed with a specific goal:
As part of its Practice and Innovation effort, OJJDP funded 11 demonstration sites from 2000 to 2006 nationwide. The sites were designed to improve the accessibility, delivery, and quality of services for children exposed to violence and their families at any point of entry. These system changes helped improve outcomes for children by increasing identification of and access to services and awareness of the impact of children's exposure to violence. Findings vary across communities; however, some found they were able to reduce trauma symptoms in children, parenting stress, and even at times the amount of violence children were experiencing.
In the second phase of Practice and Innovation (20052010), OJJDP has funded 15 Promising Approaches Pilot Sites, which currently are focusing on implementing and measuring developmentally appropriate services for children exposed to violence within the context of the systems that serve them. A process and outcome evaluation of these sites is increasing knowledge about how specific intervention strategies affect outcomes for children and families.
OJJDP's Safe Start Center oversees the training and technical assistance and resource development/outreach components of the Safe Start initiative. The center works with national partners and a multidisciplinary group of experts to broaden the scope of knowledge and resources available to providers, advocates, and families. The center provides and disseminates information on emerging practice and research concerning children exposed to violence and builds awareness of the issue. Additionally, the Safe Start Center provides training, technical assistance, and consultation support to communities—including national teleconferences, a national database of consultants with specific technical and content expertise, Web site dissemination, and multimedia education such as webinars, workshops, and presentations to increase skills, knowledge, and awareness about issues concerning children exposed to violence.
Resource:For information about how to order a print copy or to download the OJJDP Bulletin, Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey, please see the New Publications section of the newsletter.
OJJDP has awarded grants totaling more than $147 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. These grants are included in the more than $2.76 billion of Recovery Act funding administered by the Office of Justice Programs. OJJDP Recovery Act funding includes
National Youth Mentoring Programs$85.1 million. These programs fund activities that assist in developing and enhancing programs to provide mentoring services to populations that are underserved because of such factors as location, a shortage of mentors, and physical or mental challenges of the targeted population.
Recovery Act Funding for the ICAC ProgramThe ICAC program, a national network of 59 (61 in 2010) coordinated task forces, helps State and local law enforcement agencies develop an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. Following is a breakdown of OJJDP grants awarded under the Recovery Act to support the ICAC program:
Resources:More information on Recovery Act funding is available on the Office of Justice Programs Web page, which includes a complete listing of awardees.
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has established a new Web site, cciToolsforFeds.org, offering a wealth of tools and resources to help Federal staff plan, support, and help sustain comprehensive community initiatives (CCIs)local community interventions that seek to improve outcomes for youth and families through systems change.
CCIs foster broad-based and multisector collaborations to improve the governance, policies, practices, and values of organizations and systems involved in promoting the health and well-being of youth. Examples of issues addressed by CCIs include readiness for school, high school graduation rates, the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the justice system, abuse and neglect, suicide, substance abuse, and delinquency and violence.
Although the emphasis on systems change is what sets a CCI apart from a conventional service-delivery program, it is also what makes a CCI challenging to plan and implement. Even when funding provides for the time to build collaborative relationships and structures, grantees, under pressure to meet the day-to-day client demands, understandably tend to divert energy and focus from the long-term, systems-change work to the immediacy of service delivery.
The Coordinating Council's new Web site helps Federal staff align funding, management, evaluation, and technical assistance to maintain the focus on systems change in partnership with community organizations and agencies serving children, youth, and families.
The Web site includes the following resources:
Learn the Basics. Explains CCIs and systems change, offers advice about when it makes sense to develop a CCI, and maps the steps to plan the initiative and track its progress.
Plan, Manage, and Sustain Your CCI Project. Offers detailed guidance on forming Federal partnerships, planning site funding, developing and resourcing technical assistance to CCI project sites, and creating appropriate evaluations for CCI projects. This section features a Q&A format with comprehensive answers to key questions often asked by Federal staff.
How To. Provides information about how to develop and write solicitations, plan budgets, and select and orient CCI project sites. This section includes detailed checklists and links to sample work products.
Find Tools and Resources. Offers a "toolkit" (including training materials, case studies, templates and forms, and suggestions for further reading) for Federal staff and CCI sites. The tools assist with the full range of activities involved in planning and managing a CCI, including planning funding, developing a solicitation, creating a sustainability plan, writing agreements and contracts, developing Federal and community partnerships, structuring technical assistance, and designing an evaluation.
Every day, professionals involved with CCIs are learning more about what makes a CCI effective and how the Federal government can best support community change efforts. The goal of cciToolsforFeds.org is to serve as a living resource that reflects the most up-to-date knowledge in the field. The site will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is pleased to invite you on a real-time online "tour" of cciToolsforFeds.org on October 22, 34 p.m. ET. You will learn how cciToolsForFeds.org can help you
A recently released publication by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) shows how best-practice decisionmaking programs have successfully enhanced outcomes for children and families in dependency court proceedings. Funded through OJJDP's Model Dependency Courts initiative, the publication, The Model Court Effect: Proven Strategies in Systems' Change, presents data demonstrating that Model Courts can reduce the numbers of children in foster care, increase adoptions, improve compliance with timelines for permanency hearings, reduce costs, and eliminate barriers between systems and agencies working for children and families.
The Model Dependency Courts initiative encompasses a network of juvenile and family courts in 31 States and the District of Columbia that collaborate to enhance court processes and help children in foster care find permanent homes. Drawing on NCJFCJ's best-practices books Resource Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases and Adoption and Permanency Guidelines: Improving Court Practice in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases as guides to systems reform, the project identifies impediments to timely court practices and delivery of services to children in care and their families as a prelude to designing and implementing strategies that address those barriers. With technical assistance and training from NCJFCJ's Permanency Planning for Children Department, such innovative practices are tested and refined as part of ongoing systems change.
Following are just a few examples of improvements in the juvenile justice system brought about through Model Courts:
Legal Professionals Testify to the Success of Model Courts
Following are just a few of the testimonies to the effectiveness of Model Courts cited in The Model Court Effect:
"Nothing has been more beneficial in maintaining an unwavering focus and effectively pursuing permanency and the best interest of children in the dependency system than the serious commitment to implement Model Court best practice initiatives."
"Being a Model Court takes best practices off the pages of books and breathes life into them."
"The Model Court project has given me the opportunity to come together with a group of committed and dedicated people to share frustration and to learn. It provides a source of support and numerous resources that can assist in problem-solving and developing new ideas and programs."
Judge Ernestine Gray
New Orleans (LA) Model Court
To date, OJJDP has held four sessions:
Child Protection (August 2009). Participants were asked to discuss a series of topics, including children's exposure to violence; trends in child victimization, including trends related to lost, injured, and missing children; the age, geographic distribution, language, cultural group, and physical or mental disadvantages of victimized children; characteristics of the perpetrators (adults, other youth, family members, strangers); and the setting (school, home, detention facilities) in which victimization occurs. Participants offered recommendations about potential areas of focus, including how to reduce risk-taking behaviors that put youth at risk for victimization or exploitation, and how to build collaborative responses to adolescents who self-produce child pornography.
Research and Evaluation (July 2009). Participants were asked to offer their suggestions about how OJJDP can move forward with a renewed focus on science and data-driven programming. Researchers, policymakers, and practitioners engaged in a wide-ranging discussion on emerging issues, research priorities, and ways in which OJJDP can best support researchers and the research field.
Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact (June 2009). This session included an overview of current trends in the effort to address the disproportionate representation of minorities at all decision points within the juvenile justice continuum and implementation of best practices for delinquency prevention and system improvement. Participants were asked to discuss, among other topics, how States and territories are measuring disproportionality via the Relative Rate Index, the use of objective risk assessment instruments at the various contact points, and specific examples of States and communities that have reduced or mitigated disproportionality based on process, outcome, and/or impact evaluations.
OJJDP is pleased to announce its support of the 10th annual Lights On Afterschool initiative. Scheduled for October 22, 2009, this nationwide effort calls attention to the importance of afterschool programs and the resources needed to keep their lights on and doors open. More than 7,500 events will be held across America in schools, malls, and other venues.
More than a million people across the United States will participate in street fairs, open houses, fun runs, science and math competitions, community parades, and more to celebrate Lights On Afterschool, the only nationwide rally for afterschool programs. The event is sponsored by the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public
awareness and advocacy organization.
"Studies have shown that children participating in afterschool programs demonstrate increased school attendance and enhanced academic achievement," said Jeff Slowikowski, OJJDP's Acting Administrator. "Afterschool programs also reduce juvenile offending, while promoting public safety and positive child development. No afterschool program is too small to help deter youth from the destructive path of delinquent behavior."
More than 14 million children have no place to go after school. Two-thirds of Americans say that it is difficult to find programs in their communities and that not enough programs are available. To address this urgent need, OJJDP encourages participation by individuals and community organizations across the country in the Lights On Afterschool rally. To learn more about Lights On Afterschool, access event planning tools, register an event, or to find out what is going on in your area on October 22, visit http://ojjdp.ncjrs.gov/lightson.
All OJJDP publications may be viewed on and downloaded from the publications section of the OJJDP Web site. Print publications also may be ordered online at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) Web site.
This Report provides annual updates on the well-being of children and families in the United States across a range of domains. This compendium of indicators illustrating both the promises and the difficulties confronting our Nation's young people presents 40 key indicators on important aspects of children's lives. These indicators are easily understood by broad audiences, objectively based on substantial research, balanced so that no single area of children's lives dominates the report, measured regularly so that they can be updated to show trends over time, and representative of large segments of the population rather than one particular group. To order a printed copy, visit the NCJRS Web site.
This Bulletin describes the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence (NatSCEV), a nationwide survey of the incidence and prevalence of children's exposure to violence. NatSCEV estimated both past-year and lifetime exposure to violence across a number of categories, including physical assault, bullying, sexual victimization, child maltreatment, dating violence, and witnessed and indirect victimization. The NatSCEV study showed high levels of exposure to violence among a nationally representative sample of youth. More than three in five reported being direct or indirect victims of violence in the past year, and of those, nearly two-thirds were victimized more than once. For more information, see story, "Department of Justice Releases OJJDP Bulletin Summarizing Survey Results on Children's Exposure to Violence." To order a printed copy, visit the NCJRS Web site.
Disproportionate minority contact (DMC) refers to the disproportionate representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. A companion to the latest edition of OJJDP's Disproportionate Minority Contact Technical Assistance Manual, this Bulletin describes strategies that States and communities can use to reduce DMC. In addition to useful "how to" information (including a six-step preparation process) drawn from the manual, the Bulletin presents important background on the context in which local preparation takes placemedia coverage and public attitudes about crime, race, and youth. Preparation at the local level is critical to understanding the roles, values, priorities, and joint missions of local stakeholders as they begin to reduce DMC. To order a printed copy, visit the NCJRS Web site.
Online Resource for Comprehensive Community Initiatives. The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Council) has launched a new Web site to help Federal staff plan, support, and sustain Comprehensive Community Initiatives. For more information, see "Coordinating Council Launches Web Site To Help Federal Staff Support CCIs" in this issue.
Quarterly Meeting. The Council will announce its next quarterly meeting once the date and location have been confirmed.
Additional Information. To learn more about the Council, please visit their Web site.
The Council is made up of 18 members, including 9 ex officio membersthe Attorney General; the Secretaries of the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Labor; the Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the Department of Homeland Security; the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. An additional nine members are juvenile justice practitioners appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Senate Majority Leader, and the President of the United States.
FACJJ's 2009 Fall Meeting will be held October 2931, 2009, in Austin, TX. Registration is available through FACJJ's meeting registration Web page. FACJJ meetings are open to the public; anyone may register to attend and observe. Additional information is available on FACJJ's Web site.