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Defending Childhood: Report of the Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2012
183 pages
The Attorney General's National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence presents its report on ways the Nation can prevent, reduce, and treat children's exposure to violence.
In emphasizing the significance of the problem being addressed, the report estimates that of the 76 million children currently living in the United States, 46 million will experience violence, crime, abuse, and psychological trauma this year. The report distinguishes the adverse emotional effects on children of various types of violence, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, intimate partner violence, community violence, and multiple types of violence. In proposing ways to counter the prevalence and effects of violence to which children are exposed, the task force believes that these children can heal if they are identified early and receive specialized services, evidence-based treatment, and proper care and support. After presenting an overview of the problem, 10 foundational recommendations are proposed. The next two chapters offer recommendations intended to ensure that children exposed to violence are reliably identified, screened, and assessed, followed by appropriate support, treatment, and other services. The fourth and fifth chapters focus on prevention, emphasizing the importance of integrating prevention, intervention, and resilience across systems by nurturing children through supportive, loving, and non-violent relationships in homes and communities. In the sixth and final chapter, the task force calls for a new approach to juvenile justice. This approach recognizes that the majority of children involved in the justice system have been exposed to violence, which requires that a high priority be given to the identification of the needs related to such victimization, followed by evidence-based treatment. Task force recommendations are based on input from people who work to prevent, reduce, and treat children's exposure to violence, as well as from those who have experienced it.