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President Clinton's Children's Health Initiative

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At the White House Early Childhood Development and Learning Conference, the President announced a new Safe Start Initiative to help break the cycle of violence for our nation's youngest victims. The Safe Start Initiative will provide training to law enforcement, prosecutors, school personnel, probation officers, and other professionals to better respond to the needs of children exposed to violence in their homes and communities.

The Problem

Throughout America, too many children are exposed to violence at home, in their neighborhoods, and in their schools. Children's exposure to violence has been associated with increased depression, anger, substance abuse, and lower academic achievement. Children who experience violence either as victims or witnesses also are at increased risk of becoming violent themselves.

In a study conducted at Boston City Hospital, 1 out of every 10 children seen in its primary care clinic had witnessed a shooting or stabbing before the age of 6 -- half in their homes and half in the streets. The average age of these children was only 2.7 years old.

The Safe Start Initiative

The Safe Start Initiative builds on the Child Development-Community Policing Program (CD-CP) started in 1991 between the New Haven Department of Police Services and Yale University Child Study Center, and now funded by the Department of Justice. It was more recently extended to Buffalo, NY; Charlotte, NC; Nashville, TN; and Portland, OR, with Justice Department funding.

The Safe Start Initiative will increase the number and expand the scope of these regional demonstration sites in which community police officers partner with mental health clinicians to provide rapid and effective treatment to children exposed to violence.

The Safe Start Initiative will also provide nationwide intensive training and technical assistance for professionals who come into contact with children who have been exposed to family and gang violence, violence in their community and schools, and abuse or neglect.

Up to 20,000 professionals who work with children in communities across the nation will receive Safe Start training including: law enforcement, prosecutors, school personnel, and probation and parole officers.

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