Message From the Deputy Attorney General

Unfortunately, children are exposed to violence at nearly every turn. Violence is in the media, our communities and schools, and, most tragically, in children’s homes.

Children suffer serious and long-term consequences from experiencing violence: children who are victims of, or witnesses to, violence are at an increased risk for development of behavioral, psychological, and physical problems. They are also more likely to engage in alcohol and drug use, delinquent acts, and later adult criminality. Furthermore, these children are often at risk of repeating the violence they have experienced, thus perpetuating a cycle of violence that can continue throughout future generations. We must stop this cycle of abuse now and take concrete action to prevent it from occurring in the future.

To address the impact of children’s exposure to violence, 150 practitioners and policymakers from diverse disciplines came together in June 1999 to identify key issues that must be addressed to reduce and, ultimately, prevent children’s exposure to violence. Participants at this meeting identified and committed to common goals and the following eight principles for action: work together, begin earlier, think developmentally, make mothers safe to keep children safe, enforce the law, make adequate resources available, work from a sound knowledge base, and create a culture of nonviolence.

This publication provides practical steps that can be implemented by professionals who serve youth and families, including child welfare and domestic violence advocates; healthcare practitioners; law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges; and legislators and policymakers. The document also provides general areas for action, identifies resources, and highlights programs that are currently making a difference in our children’s lives.

I am certain that this Action Plan will assist you in your work on behalf of children, and your contribution and continued involvement in this effort are critical to its success. Through our partnerships at Federal, State, and local levels, we can make great progress in preventing and reducing children’s exposure to violence, ensuring a better future for our Nation’s communities, families, and youth.

Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Deputy Attorney General


Safe From the Start: Taking Action on Children Exposed to Violence
OJJDP Summary
November 2000