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November 2003Vol. 4, No. 9HHS Launches Effort to Help Children Who Witness Domestic Violence

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson recently announced a new initiative to help children who witness domestic violence develop into healthy, well-adjusted adults and prevent the cycle of violence from continuing from one generation to the next.

A significant percentage of children who witness domestic violence eventually become abusers or victims of abuse. This initiative, called "Safe and Bright Futures for Children," will incorporate evidence-based practices such as treatment for child and adolescent trauma, mentoring, and mental health services, while also addressing risk and protective factors to negate the cyclical effects of violence. It will encourage the integration of these services at the local and regional level by building collaborations of community, faith-based, or other programs that identify, assess, treat, and provide long-term services.

"Each year, there are nearly 700,000 documented incidents of domestic violence that threaten the well-being of children and families across our Nation," Secretary Thompson said. "This new effort will provide preventive services and support to help children affected by this violence to enjoy a safe and bright future and to break the cycle of violence. We want to provide our youth with the skills and tools they need to make healthy choices in their lives."

Under the new effort, HHS expects to provide funding for demonstration projects nationwide to serve children and adolescents who witness or are exposed to domestic violence. Grantees must establish partnerships between agencies, organizations, and other referral services within the community. Recipients may include faith-based, community, and other organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to providing counseling and mental health services to children and youth living in their communities. Awards will depend on the size of the community and the scope of the project, with priority given to communities with a high incidence of domestic violence.

HHS plans to devote about $5 million to support one or more demonstration projects in fiscal year 2004. For more information about this initiative, see the full press release on the HHS website at