SAFER TOMORROWS & DEFENDING CHILDHOOD INITIATIVE
Safer Tomorrows is one of four projects in the nation to be awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Defending Childhood Initiative to address child exposure to all forms of violence in Grand Forks County.
More than 40 organizations, public and private, urban and rural, secular and faith based, are collaborating to make children’s lives safer.
It is the incredible collaboration of these partners that is the strength of Safer Tomorrows.
Safer Tomorrows focuses on three key areas: PREVENTION, INTERVENTION AND DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW.
Raise awareness among all citizens
of violence, develop social norms promoting healthy relationships, and offer services that encourage healing
Educate every child in K-12 schools in county
and children ages 3-5 in Head Start and childcare programs about how to prevent violence and engage in positive and healthy relationships
Coach boys into men
by teaching boys in sports programs that violence never equals strength
Expand home visiting
that prevents child maltreatment to rural and other areas
Enhance specialized therapy for children
impacted by sexual assault, dating violence, bullying, violence at home, and other abuse to help them overcome the trauma
Expand restorative justice at schools
to reduce bullying and repair the harm caused by hurtful behavior
of professionals by initiating cross-agency screening and referrals, interdisciplinary and rural coalitions to coordinate services, training on best practices, an interpreter resource list and other efforts
Increase our understanding
of the ways local children are impacted by exposure to violence by establishing a system to collect and analyze data on all forms of childhood exposure to violence
Enhance and evaluate our response
by using data to inform our efforts, to improve our systemic response to child victims, and to increase awareness of local violence
Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative on September 23, 2010, to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The Attorney General has been personally and professionally committed to this issue for many years, dating back to early in his career when he served as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and through his tenure as Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration.
Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.
This problem affects each one of us. Effectively addressing it must become our shared concern and our shared cause. Building on lessons learned from previously funded research and programs such as Safe Start, the Child Development-Community Policing Program, and the Greenbook Initiative, Defending Childhood leverages existing resources across the Department of Justice to focus on preventing, addressing, reducing, and more fully understanding childhood exposure to violence.
In 2010, Department of Justice awarded grants to eight sites in cities and tribal communities around the country to develop strategic plans for comprehensive community-based efforts that would further demonstrate the goals of this initiative. Each of these sites received additional support in 2011 to help launch, sustain, and expand programs and organizations focused on the development of community-based solutions to address the problem. Four sites were then supported in developing comprehensive demonstration projects.
In addition to the demonstration program grants, the Department of Justice is committing additional funding for research, evaluation, public awareness and training for professional members and affiliates of national organizations through the initiative.
Read about the Attorney General’s Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence recommendations to see the strong federal commitment to helping our children and communities. (Find the full report here.)
Our Federal partners include: the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), Office on Violence Against Women, and the Office of Justice Programs.