Position paper on Violence Prevention
POSITION IN BRIEF
Support violence prevention programs in all communities.
The League of Women Voters of the United States supports violence
prevention programs in all communities and action to support:
- public and private development and coordination of programs that
emphasize the prevention of violence
- active role of government and social institutions in preventing violent behavior
- allocation of public moneys in government programs to prevent violence
Delegates to the 1994 LWVUS convention adopted the position on Violence Prevention by concurrence. It is based on work done by a number of state and local Leagues. The League endorsed the Violence Against Women Act, which passed Congress and was signed by the President in September as part of a comprehensive crime bill.
Taken from the LWVUS National Program
SUMMARY OF LEAGUE POSITION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic Violence is a crime in the same way that violence against any member of the community is a crime and should be treated as such. League of Women Voters supports a coordinated community response to domestic violence and sexual assault that emphasizes victim safety, perpetrator accountability and prevention education.
Recognizing that violence against women and children is widespread in Hawaii as in the rest of the country, League has put its efforts into studying the problem of domestic violence and presenting public forums to educate our members and the community.
In 1993 League held its first general membership meeting on family violence. In 1994 the National League convention adopted a position on Violence Prevention by concurrence. In implementing the National Position, League held its general membership meetings with public forums, in 1995 ("Discussion on Violence"), 1996 ("Presentation of Court Monitoring Project"), and 1997, ("A Coordinated Community Response").
In January 1995, League began to serve on the Women's Legislative Coalition and supported the flagship bill, SB 2151, Relating to the Prevention of Physical and Sexual Violence, which recommended a public-private partnership be established to begin a school-based violence prevention project.
In September 1996, League, and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women issued a report on its study of the handling of misdemeanor spouse abuse cases in family court. The study revealed that many perpetrators of family violence received little or no jail time or other punishment for their crime. The study spurred public discussion about the prosecution and adjudication of domestic violence cases.
In June 1998, League produced its second major report on domestic violence. This report, Victim Safety in Hawaii, takes a broader look at the problem, describing the current state of services for women and children, who are victims of abuse, the agencies that supply these services, and the resulting response to domestic violence in our community.
LEAGUE POSITION ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Domestic violence is a crime against the community, not a private domestic squabble. It requires a comprehensive coordinated intervention system in which public and private agencies including the police, probation officers, the courts, health care providers, victim advocates, and batterers treatment providers hold the offender accountable and offer support and protection to his victims.
Hawaii needs a coordinated community response to address the issue of domestic abuse. If the police arrest offenders who are not or cannot be held accountable for their actions, women are endangered by the arrest. If women take the courageous and dangerous step of fleeing from abuse and no shelter is available they are further endangered. Many of Hawaii's agencies can provide only the most basic services. League supports a coordinated community response in which the public and private agencies work together for these common goals:
- to identify and respond immediately to every victim in the family with sensitive and skilled assistance provided by trained professional or lay advocates.
- to protect and empower women so that they in turn can protect their children
- to make it safe for women and children to seek help with services designated to prevent further abuse
- adequate funding for victim services
- to stop further harm by holding offenders, responsible and accountable for their actions
- to ensure that every agency in the community adheres to these standards and works cooperatively to achieve them
League does not suggest that there is only one model for a coordinated community response in Hawaii. In our community three things could be done immediately.
- Re-establish and reaffirm the Ad Hoc Committee for Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Revise the priorities to place victim safety and early intervention in the domestic violence cycle
- Create a process whereby the knowledge and experience of advocates and victims can be used to improve services for victims
Ending Violence Against Women and Children in Massachusetts Families: Critical Steps for the Next Five Years, Susan Schechter, Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, November 1996, was used as reference informing our goals.