The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on Thursday, February 2nd, with additional provisions that go further in ensuring the safety and welfare of children in particular. This major feat was marred by Republican opposition, as not a single one voted in favor of the bill’s renewal. If they only knew the consequences of leaving children helpless to domestic violence, they would understand the critical importance of reauthorizing this essential piece of legislation. Without its reauthorization, which will be up for review by the full Senate shortly, the future for the most innocent domestic violence victims looks grim.
Here is the reality. Children raised in homes with domestic violence are 50 times more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs and six times more likely to commit suicide. Nearly two-thirds of convicted murderers between the ages of 11 and 20 who commit homicide killed the man abusing their mothers. Alarmingly, 90 percent of prison inmates report that they experienced domestic violence as children. The damage doesn’t end there. This epidemic costs the United States more than $600 billion annually in direct and indirect costs. But the truly staggering price is the loss of human potential. More than 40 million adults in the US were such children and are still struggling with the self-destructive falsehoods that they learned and internalized from their experience.
Calls for an “end to the cycle of violence” cannot logically end without a substantial focus on the children. Domestic violence programs throughout the country seem primarily concerned with adults who are involved in violent relationships. The focus on children is a distant second and often altogether absent from the dialogue. But more than two-thirds of children who are raised in violent homes will go on to repeat the cycle in adulthood and become the future adults that laws and lawmakers legislate to keep safe or guard against. These children and the adults who once were these children desperately need a voice. They need to be an integral part of the national discourse on domestic violence and an essential component of any legislation that exists to guard against it.
The Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill addresses the critical needs of youth affected by domestic violence. This is an important measure we cannot afford to ignore. Reach out to your Senators and be a voice for these children. Send them a clear message to put those hard-earned taxpayer dollars to good use for a cause that really matters – to our children and our future.
Makers of Memories Foundation