OJJDP News @ A Glance
OJJDP News @ A Glance
September | October 2009

  Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention  ·  Jeff Slowikowski, Acting Administrator
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Department of Justice Releases OJJDP Bulletin Summarizing
Survey Results on Children's Exposure to Violence
Children's Exposure to Violence

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

Safe Start logo

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 (2005–2010), 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.


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 Awards More Than $147 Million in Recovery Act Funds for Mentoring Programs and ICAC
Recovery Act logo

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—

Recovery Act Funding for Mentoring Initiatives

OJJDP has long supported mentoring programs as an effective way to prevent at-risk youth from becoming involved in delinquency and to help delinquent youth change their lives for the better. OJJDP has awarded a total of $97.5 million in Recovery Act funding to the following programs: OJJDP has given priority to organizations that have mentoring programs ready to implement, work in disadvantaged communities, and can monitor and collect performance measure data from all affiliates and associated programs and use the data to achieve successful outcomes.

Recovery Act Funding for the ICAC Program

The 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: An additional $900,000 is being set aside for the National ICAC Data System, which will provide a secure, dynamic infrastructure to facilitate online law enforcement investigations and enhance OJJDP's capacity to collect and aggregate data on child exploitation. Also, $500,000 was awarded by the National Institute of Justice to evaluate the ICAC community education program.


More information on Recovery Act funding is available on the Office of Justice Programs Web page, which includes a complete listing of awardees.

Coordinating Council Launches Web Site To Help Federal Staff
Support CCIs
CCI Tool Logo

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.

Comprehensive Community Initiatives Web site

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.

Online Orientation Session
October 22: 3–4 p.m. ET

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, 3–4 p.m. ET. You will learn how cciToolsForFeds.org can help you—

  • Decide what Federal partners you need to involve in your project.
  • Select a way to coordinate funding from multiple agencies.
  • Determine each partner's contribution to the project.
  • Choose a structure for governing, managing, and collaborating among agencies.
  • Plan for sustaining your partnership.
You will also learn how cciToolsforFeds.org can help you—
  • Write solicitations for CCI projects.
  • Plan budgets for CCI projects.
  • Select and orient CCI project sites.
  • Develop and fund systems for technical assistance to CCI project sites.
  • Create appropriate evaluations for CCI projects.
  • Adapt tools that others have found useful in developing CCI projects and supporting CCI project sites.
To register for the orientation session, please visit www.workforce3one.org/view/5000923057265411033/info.
For further information about the orientation session, contact ccitoolkitfeedback@juvenilecouncil.gov.

The Coordinating Council is planning additional orientation sessions. Possible topics include Structuring Technical Assistance and Evaluation.

NCJFCJ Publication Highlights Model Courts' Success in Improving Outcomes in Child Abuse and Neglect Cases

The Model Court EffectA 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."

—Judge Oscar Gabaldon, Jr.       
El Paso (TX) Model Court        

"Being a Model Court takes best practices off the pages of books and breathes life into them."

—Judge Louis Trosch, Jr.             
Charlotte (NC) Model Court      

"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

OJJDP "Listening Sessions" Address Top Issues With Field Experts
OJJDP Listening Sessions.OJJDP is increasing communication with the juvenile justice field on challenges and solutions through "listening sessions" held in its Washington, DC, office. These interactive sessions, which started in May, are designed to create an ongoing dialog with policymakers and practitioners on the current trends and issues facing the juvenile justice field.

Information from these sessions will be used to enhance OJJDP's collective knowledge base, guide decisionmaking and planning, and promote open and transparent governing. Sessions are planned for the Nation's experts to share their perspectives on the issues they face and discuss potential solutions for them.

Attendees for the invitation-only sessions include researchers, practitioners, trainers, law enforcement professionals, court personnel, policymakers, representatives from national juvenile justice and youth service organizations, and program managers and experts at OJJDP who guide policy decisions.

Participants are invited from around the country to represent a variety of viewpoints. Listening sessions also will be held at various conferences throughout the Nation. It is hoped that these sessions will yield not only valuable information for setting the goals and priorities of OJJDP, but also will establish ongoing communications and collaboration with the field.

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.

Trends in the Juvenile Justice System (May 2009). In this session, participants were asked to discuss the demographic characteristics of juvenile offenders, the types of offenses being committed, and current system responses. Topics included decisionmaking processes, prevention and intervention services, and the use of correctional facilities. Efforts to improve juvenile justice practices also were discussed.

OJJDP Joins Initiative To Promote Afterschool Programs
Lights On  Afterschool logo
Lights On Afterschool

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."

A student shows off her lights on Afterschool poster
A student shows off her Lights On Afterschool poster.

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.

OJJDP-Sponsored Gang-Reduction Program Wins Top Award
IACP Logo The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has selected the Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP) in Richmond, VA, as a winner of the 2009 Webber Seavey Award for Quality in Law Enforcement. Richmond is one of OJJDP's demonstration program sites and has received extensive resources and assistance from the Office in developing their approach to address youth gang issues. This year's winners were honored in ceremonies held in conjunction with IACP's Annual Conference in Denver, CO, on October 3–7, 2009. GRIP is one of three programs worldwide to receive this year's award.

Administered by the Richmond, VA, Police Department, GRIP is a collaborative effort between the city of Richmond and Federal, State, and local partners to significantly reduce gang activity in targeted neighborhoods. Its goals are to significantly reduce youth and young adult gang crime in an area on the city's Southside through the application of proven practices that provide youth and young adults with healthy alternatives to joining gangs.

GRIP helped decrease violent crime in the targeted area between 2005 and 2008—a 17 percent reduction in rape and an 89 percent reduction in homicides. GRIP's 400 volunteers from 50 faith-based and community groups work with about 4,000 at-risk youth per week.

GRIP encompasses more than 40 programs that include health care, afterschool care, English as a Second Language and Spanish as a Second Language classes, job development, community revitalization, and a host of other programs that provide the community, and specifically youth, a positive alternative to gangs. Recognized by the Department of Justice as a "Best Practices" program, GRIP is being expanded within the city to include the Northside.

The Webber Seavey Award is presented annually in recognition of excellence in law enforcement and dedication to the quality of life in local communities. The award is named for Webber S. Seavey, IACP's first president. IACP is the world's oldest and largest nonprofit membership organization of police executives, with more than 20,000 members in more than 89 different countries.

New Publications

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.

Now Available

America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-BeingAmerica's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2009 (Report)

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.

Children's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National SurveyChildren's Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey (Bulletin)

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.

Reducing Disproportionate Minority Contact: Preparation at the Local LevelReducing Disproportionate Minority Contact: Preparation at the Local Level (DMC Bulletin)

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 place—media 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.

News From the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Coordinating Council logoOnline 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 Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is an independent body within the executive branch of the Federal Government. The Council's primary functions are to coordinate Federal juvenile delinquency prevention programs, Federal programs and activities that detain or care for unaccompanied juveniles, and Federal programs relating to missing and exploited children.

The Council is made up of 18 members, including 9 ex officio members—the 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.

News From the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice

Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice logoFACJJ's 2009 Fall Meeting will be held October 29–31, 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.

The Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice is a consultative body established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002 and supported by OJJDP. Composed of representatives nominated by the Governors of the States and territories and the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the committee advises the President and Congress on matters related to juvenile justice, evaluates the progress and accomplishments of juvenile justice activities and projects, and advises the OJJDP Administrator on the work of OJJDP.

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