The following post appears courtesy of Susan B. Carbon, Director, Office on Violence Against Women
An important second meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women brought the 15-member group together in earlier this month to begin developing concrete ideas for ways to address the tragic realities of teen dating violence and children exposed to violence in America and worldwide.
NAC members spent two days sharing their perspectives on these issues and listening to compelling presentations from within and outside government. Personal presentations by six young women from the National Crittenton Foundation included their depictions of myriad forms of violence they had experienced, and then overcame, to establish healthy and positive life goals. These stories of tragedy-turned-triumph were both inspiring and informative.
A presentation by Dr. David Wolfe, a psychologist and author specializing in issues affecting children and youth, provided background to NAC members and public participants on some of the research being conducted on the prevention and intervention of youth violence. Representatives from the Stalking Resource Center and the National Network to End Domestic Violence also shared a cutting-edge presentation on how technology has changed all the crimes, specifically stalking among our teens and pre-teens.
Several federal partners gave updates on the related and innovative work currently underway within the Administration. Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, detailed the importance of these issues to the President and First Lady and described the critical work of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Lynn Rosenthal, the first-ever Advisor on Violence Against Women in the White House, shared some of the work being done in the White House on issues of youth violence. Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli engaged the NAC in a lively dialogue and challenged the members to “think big” in framing their recommendations.
Additional topical updates were presented on the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative; OVW’s Protective Parents Roundtable; The Office of Justice Programs’ Youth Violence Summit; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ work on issues within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families; recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the work of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
In one of the more poignant moments of the meeting, 18-year-old NAC member and advocate Amber Johnson shared the poem, “Say Yes” by Andrea Gibson. The theme of how hope is real and felt among people who give of themselves, and the difference that it makes to others, comes through in the excerpted lines below:
When two violins are placed in a room,
if a chord on one violin is struck,
the other violin will sound the note.
If this is your definition of hope, this is for you.
The ones who know how powerful we are,
who know we can sound the music in the people around us
simply by playing our own strings.
We at OVW are honored to have such an extraordinary group of experts serving on the NAC to address these critical issues and tirelessly working to end these crimes through research, advocacy and outreach. This group of individuals includes experts in domestic violence and sexual assault, from urban and rural communities, of all ages and different backgrounds. Their diverse and unique perspectives will help guide how we begin to turn the tide for teens and children exposed to violence worldwide. We will continue to share updates as the NAC continues to meet and compile official recommendations for Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a federal advisory body chartered to provide guidance to the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services on ways to help children and youth exposed to violence. Its members are appointed by the Attorney General. The first meeting, held in January, 2011, brought this group together for initial introductions, presentations and small group discussions.
More information is available at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/nac.html.