Boston chosen as one of eight pilot sites
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today announced that Boston is one of eight demonstration sites for a new US Department of Justice initiative focused on addressing children’s exposure to violence. The city has received $160,000 as part of the Defending Childhood Initiative to develop a multiyear plan to prevent and reduce the impact of exposure to violence in homes, schools, and communities for children 0 to 17.
“The Boston Public Health Commission will spend the next eight months working with the Boston Medical Center and a broad cross-section of organizations and institutions to develop this critically important plan to protect our children,” said Mayor Menino. “This is an opportunity for sectors that have not usually worked together to learn from one another, share ideas, and implement an action plan to reduce children’s exposure to violence in Boston.”
Attorney General Eric Holder launched the initiative to address the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. The consequences of this problem are significant and widespread. Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm.
Boston’s grant is part of the Justice Department’s demonstration program that provides local communities with funding to develop and implement multidisciplinary plans that specifically address prevention, intervention, treatment, and response strategies directed to children.
The Boston Public Health Commission has enlisted 40 organizations, ranging from the Boston Public Schools to Boston police and emergency medical services, to hospitals, state agencies, victims service providers and foundations to help develop the plan. A leadership team and collaborative members will undergo training about all types of violence, analyze existing policies and data, conduct focus groups with youth and caregivers, interview more than 20 stakeholders, and create two advisory committees: one consisting of parents and caregivers and the other consisting of youths. The plan they develop will be submitted to the Department of Justice by June 2011 in the hopes that Boston will receive additional funding for implementation. Meanwhile, the group will identify no-cost and low-cost strategies that can be implemented immediately.
“I am grateful that these partners are committing their time, their ideas, and their expertise to tackling this important issue,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “Building peace in the city is rooted in reducing children’s exposure to violence.”
The other seven demonstration sites are Portland, ME; the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Montana; Grand Forks, N.D.; the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners in Ohio; the Multnomah County Department of Human Services in Oregon; the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota; and Shelby County, Tenn.