By Reuss, Pat
National NOW Times , Vol. 37, No. 1
It's incredible to think that more than a decade has passed since the first Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law in 1994. Since its passage, VAWA has impacted women of all ages and backgrounds, all races and religions and all communities throughout the nation.
VAWA impacts so many women because it allocates vital funding to a variety of programs-everything from research grants and legal assistance to community initiatives and assistance for immigrant families. VAWAs ability to affect change in the past decade proves the legislation's power to combat domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault and in turn help women and children lead healthy and safe lives.
Yet this progress could be halted, or worse reversed, if VAWA is not reauthorized this year. We need to not only renew original programs and services, but also improve and expand its ability to stop violence. In reauthorization, VAWA must adequately address prevention by working with youth and young adults who experience the infiltration of violence into all aspects of their lives-at school, at home and in their communities.
Addressing the role of violence and the need for preventative measures in the lives of youth and young adults is important in order to break the cycle of violence. The sheer number of youth exposed to violence every year is startling.
In 2002 alone, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 896,000 children in the U.S. experienced child abuse or neglect. These numbers become even more disturbing when taking into account the American Pyschological Association's finding that a child's exposure to their father abusing their mother is the strongest risk factor of passing violent behavior from one generation to the next.
Today, this country unfortunately lacks the services to serve young adults, who are in dire need since girls and women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of non-fatal intimate partner violence.
The proposed VAWA 2005 expands its safety net, creating outreach and prevention programs to young people to help break the cycle of violence. …