Nation combats domestic violence

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
Editor's Note: October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. This is the second story in a series on domestic violence.
On Tuesday President Bush recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness month and announced new initiatives designed to address the ongoing problem of domestic violence in America's communities.
One initiative announced by the president was the creation of "family justice centers" which will fall under the Department of Justice and function in coordination with other agencies. The centers are designed to help local communities provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence under one roof.
"Domestic violence is a serious problem affecting women, men and children of all backgrounds," a press release from the White House states. "Victims of domestic violence often are forced to seek help in a fragmented system of separate agencies offering uncoordinated services. The Family Justice Center initiative will make a victim's search for assistance and justice much easier during a difficult time."
According to information from the White House, the family justice centers will be able to provide domestic violence victims with comprehensive services at a single location including medical care, counseling, law enforcement assistance, faith-based services, social services and assistance with employment and housing.
"Through an inter-agency effort led by the Department of Justice, the Bush Administration will award $20 million in grants in (fiscal year) 2004 funds to help establish and support family justice centers in 12 communities partnering with local community leaders, nonprofit agencies, corporate partners and government agencies," the release from the White House states.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, there were nearly 700,000 documented incidents of domestic violence affecting individuals and families in 2001. "President Bush is committed to preventing domestic violence, addressing the effects of domestic violence on all Americans, and has secured historic levels of funding for the Violence Against Women programs at the Department of Justice," the White House release states.
"In the fiscal year 2002 budget, the president requested and secured approximately a $100 million increase in funding for these programs, and has continued to provide similar levels of funding in the fiscal year 2003 and fiscal year 2004 budgets. Federal prosecutions relating to violence against women increased by 35 percent in fiscal year 2002. The Bush Administration is committed to zero tolerance towards domestic violence."
Another initiative announced by the president on Tuesday was the creation of a program called Safe and Bright Futures for Children, which will fall under the Department of Health and Human Services. "Children who witness domestic violence have a greater chance of continuing a cycle of violence, and it is, therefore, critical to address the needs of children traumatized by domestic violence," a release from the White House states. "The Safe and Bright Futures for Children initiative will provide treatment and support to help children affected by domestic violence to break the cycle of violence."
The Department of Health and Human Services will award $5 million in grants in fiscal year 2004 to community and faith-based organizations to bring together local services to help children and youth who have witnessed domestic violence. "In times of crisis, many victims of domestic violence turn to the faith community, and the federal government is working to partner with faith-based organizations," the White House release states. "The initiative will provide crisis intervention and counseling and will coordinate violence prevention and youth development strategies."
At his press conference on Tuesday, the president also announced that a postage stamp dedicated to preventing domestic violence went on sale that morning with the U.S. Postal Service. The "Stop Family Violence" postage stamp will help raise money for domestic violence prevention programs including the new Safe and Bright Futures for Children grants.
This is only the third time in the history of the U.S. Postal Service that a fundraising stamp has been issued.