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Child Victims and Witnesses.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence: Recommendations to Imp rove the Criminal Justice Response to Child Victims and Witnesses, a monograph recently released from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office for Victims of Crime, offers specific recommendations to law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and criminal court judges and administrators. Moreover, the monograph offers five recommendations to all criminal justice professionals to improve their response to children exposed to violence.

* To ensure the earliest possible recognition and reporting of crimes against children, all criminal justice professionals who come in contact with children should be trained to identify children who are exposed to violence as victims or witnesses and informed of the impact of victimization on children.

* Criminal justice professionals assigned to handle cases involving child victims and child witnesses should have more in-depth training in forensic interviewing, child development, identification of abuse-related injuries, the emotional and psychological impact of abuse, and legal issues related to child victims and witnesses.

* Children who witness violence should be provided the same level of victim assistance and special protections within the criminal and juvenile justice systems as child victims.

* Criminal justice agencies handling cases involving children as victims and witnesses should work in collaboration with other agencies having responsibility for at-risk children, such as family and juvenile courts, social and victim services agencies, and medical and mental health providers.

* Criminal justice professionals should adapt their practices to recognize the developmental stages and needs of child victims and witnesses to ensure they receive sensitive treatment throughout the investigative and trial process.

The monograph describes the best practices and programs that focus on the most effective response to child victims and child witnesses by all those who work in the criminal justice system. The information, skills, programs, and practices described in the publication can serve as a blueprint for policymakers, criminal justice professionals, and others who recognize the importance of effective intervention in the lives of victimized children as a way to prevent future crime and violence.

For further information, contact the Office for Victims of Crime at 800-627-6872, or access its Internet site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/.
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Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Words:353
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