FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: M. Jane Brady
DELAWARE'S CHILD ABUSE RESPONSE COULD BE
MODEL FOR OTHERS;A.G. Brady Hosted Study Team That Will Report Findings
(Wilmington, DE) -- Delaware Attorney General M. Jane Brady today announced that Delaware's vigorous initiatives in prosecuting domestic violence crimes involving children will be featured at a national meeting in Washington, D.C. on February 6-7, 2002, that will bring together state practitioners and national experts to discuss how the states can better protect children who witness domestic violence. Delaware's initiatives have been evaluated by a team from the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and are being praised as a model for other states. After a preliminary review of efforts undertaken in many states, the study team was most impressed with Delaware's initiatives and selected the state for a site visit to learn more. Attorney General Brady hosted the visitors in mid-December.
The site visit was an integral part of the NAAG project, funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, that focuses on state responses to children who witness domestic violence, and furthers NAAG's ongoing commitment to combat family violence and examines responses to the exposure of children to domestic abuse.
"This is a tremendous undertaking by NAAG with a significant opportunity to affect public policy in the area of domestic violence," said Nevada Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa, Convener of NAAG's Violence Against Women Committee. "Because of the growing awareness of the consequences resulting from exposure to domestic abuse, states have been exploring diverse means of protecting children from violence in their homes."
During the visit, the NAAG team conducted a comprehensive, hands-on review to learn how Delaware has addressed the issue of children witnessing domestic violence. They met with many of the diverse government and private entities in Delaware that address various aspects of domestic violence and the impact on children and learned about their responsibilities, roles and ideas, as well as how these groups work with each other.
"In Delaware, what has been most effective in addressing the victimization of children in domestic violence incidents is a coordinated, multi-agency approach that involves various law enforcement, human services and community solutions," Attorney General Brady said. "And we can see the impact it's having in our state." Attorney General Brady assumed a leading role in this area when she formed the Delaware Attorney General's Task Force on Child Victims in 1996. The Task Force issued a series of recommendations in 1998, many of which have been enacted by the General Assembly and public agencies. The Task Force report, Safe Harbors for Our Children, may be viewed on-line from a link from the Attorney General's web site: attorneygeneral.delaware.gov.
NAAG initially conducted a detailed survey of states that had enacted statutes addressing responses to exposure of children to domestic abuse -- either by enhancing penalties if children were involved, or by creating new criminal statutes. The NAAG team compiled the responses to this survey and subsequently chose Delaware for its site study because the State had made
significant progress in implementing their statutes and prosecuting domestic violence crimes involving children. NAAG then contacted Attorney General Brady's office, which has statewide jurisdiction for prosecuting all domestic violence crimes, to plan the recent site visit.
"Numerous research studies have illustrated the negative impact that witnessing such violence in the home has on children, including their propensity to use violence themselves," said Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker, Co-Chair of NAAG's Violence Against Women Committee. "It's imperative that we put a stop to this circle of violence."
Between 3.3 and 10 million children each
year witness acts of violence against a parent, usually their mother,
committed by the other parent or an intimate partner. Child abuse occurs
disproportionately in homes where domestic violence exists. And abused and
neglected children are a greater risk for delinquent and criminal