Attorneys General Recognize October as National Crime Prevention and Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) urges you and your family to take part in National Crime Prevention and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

This year’s theme, Protecting Children and Youth, highlights the important role of parents, law enforcement, government agencies, civic groups, businesses, schools and other community partners working together to educate and protect this nation’s greatest resource --- its youth.

Crime statistics show that children and teens can easily become victims of identity theft, property theft, online predators, teen dating violence, bullying and other crimes.

Stop Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

Attorneys General have developed many programs throughout the country to increase the public’s awareness and to prevent the devastating effects of domestic violence. One program that has attracted national attention is the Cut Out Domestic Violence initiative, which was created to provide salon professionals with information on how to help recognize and assist clients who are victims of abuse.

Attorneys General provide information to salon professionals about domestic violence, its signs, and how to discuss domestic violence with clients. Participants receive referral information on domestic violence and sexual assault programs in their jurisdiction. Although the program provides information on domestic violence, it is not designed to train salon professionals to become domestic violence counselors. To locate domestic violence resources in your jurisdiction, contact your Attorney General by visiting http://www.naag.org/attorneys_general.php.

There are many things you can do to protect yourself from domestic abuse and violence. If you’ve been injured, take photographs. If you have been abused in front of others, ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Finally, don’t hesitate to call the police if your abuser has hurt you or broken the law. Contact the police and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) for advice and help.

Tips for victims of domestic violence:

  • If there are weapons in your household such as firearms – lock them up!
  • Know where there is a safe exit from your home – a window, elevator or stairwell.
  • Discuss the situation with a trusted neighbor. Ask him or her to call 911 if the neighbor hears a disturbance. Arrange a code word to use with the neighbor if you need the police.
  • Leave an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes and some money with a trusted friend or neighbor in case you have to leave quickly.
  • Identify your best resources if you need to find shelter or money. Who will you call?

To Protect Your Children From Domestic Violence and Abuse:

  • Teach them not to get in the middle of a fight, even if they want to help.
  • Teach them how to get to safety, to call 911 and to give your address and phone number to the police.
  • Teach them whom to call for help.
  • Give school officials a copy of your court order; tell them not to release your children to anyone without talking to you first. Use a password so they can be sure it is you on the phone. Give them a photo of the abuser.
  • Make sure the children know who to tell at school if they see the abuser.
  • Make sure that the school knows not to give your address or phone number to anyone.

According to a 2006 report issued by the Federal Trade Commission,[1] identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country and the largest number of individuals who reported being victims of identity theft are between the ages of 18 and 29. Many teens lack established credit records that can be monitored, allowing criminals to use their identities for years without being detected. Young victims of identity theft are often unaware that their identities have been stolen until they apply for a driver’s license or when their requests for credit cards or student loans are denied.

Research has also shown that juveniles, ages 12 to 17, were, on average, more than twice as likely as adults to be victims of violent crime. Despite being victimized more often than any other age groups, teens are the least likely to report these incidents.[2]

In September, NAAG’s Task Force on School and Campus Safety issued a report on preventing violence at American schools and colleges. The report includes a number of recommendations to school and university administrators, law enforcement professionals, public policy makers and mental health professionals to ensure that schools and colleges are made as safe as possible without interfering with their educational mission.

Prevention and preparedness, which are two key themes in the school and campus safety report, are also critical components of this month’s special effort by the law enforcement community to raise awareness among youth and parents about important issues such as victimization, volunteerism, and creating safer communities.

To ensure that you and your child are not victims of crime, teach and practice sound crime prevention habits and encourage your child to share these practices with friends, other family members and the school community.

Everyone can do something to prevent crime. Here are a few tips to share with your children:

  • Teach your children to refrain from providing personal information online, whether in instant message profiles, chat rooms, blogs, or personal websites.
  • Urge your children to never share their computer passwords, even with friends.
  • If someone sends a mean or threatening message, tell your child not to respond. Urge them to save the message, print it and show it to you.
  • Encourage your child to report crimes or suspicious activities at school and in the neighborhood to school administrators, law enforcement or other adults.
  • Invite your child to get out and get involved. Work together on anti-violence activities, clean up graffiti and enlist his/her friends to help get other youth involved in community service.

For more information on resources your state Attorney General may have for youth, visit http://www.naag.org/attorneys_general.php to contact your Attorney General.

[1] Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Fraud and Identity Theft Complain Data, January-December, 2005. Washington, DC, January 2006

[2] Data are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey and the FBI’s Supplemental Homicide Reports, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/.

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