Teen Dating Violence Is A ‘Cabinet-Level Priority,’ Attorney General Holder Says
(CNSNews.com) - Stemming teen dating violence and safeguarding children is a "Cabinet-level priority" of the Obama administration, Attorney General Eric Holder told a gathering at the Justice Department on Friday.
Addressing the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, Holder cited some troubling statistics.
In America today, he said, "more than three out of five children have been exposed to crime, violence or abuse – in their neighborhoods, in their schools, or in their own homes. Almost forty percent of children have been direct victims of two or more violent acts. And approximately 10 percent of adolescents nationwide report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner."
Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to attempt suicide, develop eating disorders or abuse drugs, Holder said -- and they are more likely to repeat the unhealthy pattern in future relationships.
"We cannot ignore these consequences. And we must break this cycle," Holder told the gathering. He also said the government can't do it alone.
"That’s what the National Advisory Committee -- and today’s meeting – is all about. By working together, I believe we can empower adolescents to understand and to develop healthy relationships before violence and abuse can begin. And I am confident that we can help more young people identify signs of abuse, and assist them in locating services."
The goal of Friday's meeting is to work on a "strategic, comprehensive action plan," Holder said in his prepared remarks.
The attorney general thanked the National Advisory Committee "for your vision of a world where our young people, especially our young women, are no longer exposed to violence."
The National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women is co-chaired by Holder and the Health and Human Services secretary.
The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), created in 1995 as a component of the Justice Department, administers financial and other assistance to communities that develop programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Since its inception, OVW has awarded nearly $4 billion in grants and cooperative agreements, its Web site says.
Some conservative critics have faulted the Obama administration for failing to pursue policies that strengthen traditional familes.
"The intact married family is the core strength of the United States, and public policy should encourage formation of such families," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins commented following President Obama's State of the Union speech.
"Social science clearly demonstrates that children do best when raised by their own mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, and that adults also thrive when in such a marriage. Sadly, only 45 percent of American children grow up in an intact family," Perkins noted.
Perkins was making the point that many of the Obama administration's policies "have undermined strong families by affirming sexual behavior that is unhealthy and destructive to individuals, families, the military, and society."
The Family Research Council takes the position that teens and adolescents should not be involved in "intimate" dating relationships. It advocates abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage as the best way to prevent a host of social ills, including sexually transmitted diseases, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and other negative outcomes associated with premarital and extramarital sex.