|Support the Saving Money and Reducing Tragedies through Prevention Act of 2011|
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) of 2005 included a program entitled Children Exposed to Violence and Abuse. The focus of the program is to provide services for children exposed to sexual assault and violence in the home, including direct counseling or advocacy. The second component of the program is training for educational, after-school, and childcare personnel on how to safely and confidentially identify children exposed to this type of violence and properly refer them to services and violence prevention programs. VAWA 2005 also included a program to engage men as leaders and role models in changing attitudes and behaviors around these issues. Together, these programs have been funded at $6 million, a little more than 1% of the total DOJ VAWA programs.
SMART Prevention Act of 2011
Specifically, it consolidates two prevention programs: Services for Children Exposed to Violence and Abuse and Engaging Men and Youth into one program and within the comprehensive program it includes a teen dating violence prevention focus. The increased focus on the prevention of dating violence, one of the identified shortfalls of the previous approach, recognizes the importance of targeting this age group as a critical time when young people are forming attitudes and behaviors around the acceptability of violence and abuse. It also supports education and skills training to youth and those who influence young people.
The teen dating violence prevention focus would:
As recent news reports have shown, children in the United States are much more likely to experience violence or witness some type of violence than is publicly recognized, which may include physical and sexual abuse or domestic and community violence. While we are strong supporters of the entire VAWA-authorized criminal justice and service programs, we need to increase our investment in prevention programs to curtail future adult and adolescent victimization. This small investment will save tax dollars over time by helping to break the intergenerational cycle of violence. Most importantly, it will save families the devastation of seeing a child beaten, raped, or killed. There are many promising prevention programs in the field, but state budget cuts and the overwhelming need for service dollars during this difficult economic time has caused many of these prevention efforts to stall or to be eliminated.