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Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Recommendations to Improve the Criminal Justice System Response to Child Victims and Witnesses

NCJ Number
176983
Date Published
Agencies
OVC
Publication Series
Annotation
This monograph describes the best practices and programs that focus on the most effective response to juvenile victims and juvenile witnesses by all those who work in the criminal justice system, beginning at the crime scene and continuing through the prosecution.
Abstract
Children represent one-fourth of crime victims. They experience abuse from parents and caretakers, are victimized by strangers, and are exposed to violence when they witness crimes in their homes and neighborhoods. Effective, age-appropriate interactions and practices adapted to the child can reduce the trauma that child victims and child witnesses experience and minimize their long-term physical, emotional, and social problems. Recommended actions include training all criminal justice professionals who come in contact with children to identify children who are exposed to violence as victims or witnesses and informing criminal justice professionals of the impact of victimization on children. In addition, criminal justice professionals assigned to handle cases involving child victims and child witnesses should have more training in forensic interviewing, child development, the identification of abuse-related injuries, the emotional and psychological impacts of abuse, and legal issues related to child victims and witnesses. Moreover, child witnesses should receive the same level of victim assistance and special protections within the criminal and juvenile justice systems as do child victims. Other actions should include collaborative efforts among multiple agencies and adaptations of practices to recognize and address children's developmental stages and needs. Program profiles, list of resources for information and training, list of innovative programs, and 46 references
Date Created: July 7, 2020