A meeting of policymakers and practitioners convened by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in April 1997 focused on child witnesses of domestic assault and issued 43 recommendations on capacity building, prevention, and intervention, as well as an action agenda for law enforcement.
The participants noted that child witnesses of family violence are at higher risk than other children for drug abuse and school failure. In addition, males are at higher risk for aggressive behavior, and females are at higher risk for depression. These behaviors can later contribute to violence against future partners and others in their families and communities. The 31 capacity-building recommendations focus on enabling community and public organizations to intervene in the family violence cycle more effectively. Thus, organizations and agencies are urged to restructure criminal justice, social, community, education, and health service systems to intensity collaborative planning and policymaking; clarify and unify laws, written policies, and protocols to aid intervention on behalf of juvenile witnesses; and augment management and staff training for all law enforcement and social service providers. The 12 prevention and intervention recommendations focus on expanding the continuum of effective services. Recommendations include strengthening the family through programs that include such promising approaches as home visits for new parents and parenting and family skills training and developing screening protocols to enable first responders to make appropriate referrals. The law enforcement action agenda emphasizes the central role of the police and recommends that police place the issue of children who witness domestic assault at the top of the community policing agenda, ensure rapid responses to these child witnesses, and develop consistent incident reporting and record keeping systems. Additional recommendations, list of participants, and reference notes
Date Published: January 1, 1997
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