Public Safety / 2013
Childrens Counseling Program at POV
We are committed to the Children's Program as a means to create an environment of safety and healing for children ages 3 and up who have witnessed or experienced sexual or domestic violence. The Children’s Program will use a variety of cutting edge therapeutic, cognitive and somatic methods that are based on research and evidenced based successes for children's mental health and well being (e.g., play/expressive therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, support groups, etc.). The Center is distinguished by its primary focus on the engagement of children and youth and its secondary focus on those who care for them. POV will expand its mental health treatment services by establishing expert, clinical staff who will work with child witnesses and victims so that they can heal from the trauma they have experienced, increase levels of trust and support in their lives, and re-orient to a “new normal” of violence free lives. This work will impact the public safety indicator by disrupting intergenerational cycles of violence and the consequences of unaddressed trauma--agression, involvement in criminal activity, community and interpersonal violence, drug and alcohol abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and suicidal ideation. The Children's Program will be highlighted as an exceptional program within POV's Children and Youth Center. In September 2012, Peace Over Violence expanded its downtown Los Angeles headquarters by opening a Children and Youth Center. The Center currently houses POV's youth violence prevention programs, including POV's Youth Over Violence Summer Institute and Internship Program which trains 25 emerging leaders on understanding the roots of violence, media literacy education, and violence prevention strategies. Youth then participate in paid internships where they design social media apps for violence prevention, construct and implement community assessments on violence and design and strategize methods for peer involvement in violence prevention and building healthy relationships.
What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?
Peace Over Violence has been a leader in advocacy for victims of violence since the early 1970’s, when it established a rape crisis hotline, prevention training and advocacy for women who had been assaulted. In 1976, the organization expanded the hotline to include counseling for victims of domestic violence. Over the years, Peace Over Violence has evolved beyond one-on-one intervention in sexual assaults and domestic abuse, toward one-by-one prevention of youth violence and child abuse, serving over 22,000 individuals a year. A leader in advocacy for victims of violence, Peace Over Violence played a major role in the acknowledgement of rape, battering, and stalking as crimes, changes to criminal procedure to respect the rights of victims, the development of anti-violence policies and curricula, and the training of emergency room and other medical personnel to recognize and intervene in cases of domestic violence and rape. POV’s national Denim Day in LA & USA sexual violence prevention education campaign registered over 5 million participants in 2012, in all 50 states and in 117 foreign countries.
In our four decades of service, survivors, volunteers and staff have identified the following consistent needs: culturally and linguistically appropriate crisis intervention services; long term therapeutic services for children exposed to and directly impacted by violence; effective primary prevention approaches that reduce risk and eliminate violence among youth and within families; and the need for comprehensive, no cost legal services to meet the unique needs of immigrant and youth survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
POV has responded to these needs through developing new, innovative programming integrating feedback and input from the target population. In 1987, we established our Deaf and Disabled Services program–the first in the nation to address deaf/disabled survivor needs–with representatives of the Deaf community who began a crisis hotline delivered via a TDD and in-person services delivered in ASL. In 1991, In Touch With Teens was conceived out of the understanding among youth that their dating relationships contained the same power/control dynamics as adult married couples; and youth acted as leaders in peer education, prevention and advocacy activities. In 2000, we established the Legal Advocacy Project, which provides free civil legal services to address survivors’ family and immigration law matters. In 2008, we began to provide weekly violence prevention education groups and direct intervention services to former gang members through our ties with Homeboy Industries. In 2011, our advocacy efforts resulted in the Los Angeles Unified School District passing a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Policy for the entire school district.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
Peace Over Violence’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Response Teams (who respond to child survivors) maintain formal partnerships with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast and Hollenbeck Divisions, the San Gabriel Valley Medical Center, and Los Angeles County USC Hospital. Children responded to will be referred for counseling.
POV operates the only Deaf and Disabled Program for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Southern California. It partners closely with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services to meet the needs of deaf children and adults who have been assaulted.
POV will receive mentoring and guidance from LA Child Guidance Clinic counseling program.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?
The overarching goal of The Children’s Program is to recognize the profound effect of interpersonal violence on the lives of children exposed to domestic violence and sexual assault, and to demonstrate the effectiveness of intervention and prevention services to heal the trauma of these experiences.
Peace Over Violence will use standardized models to measure the impact of the program on the participants’ mental health, quality of life, academic performance, health and physical status, alcohol and drug use, and other domains. Peace Over Violence will utilize quantitative and qualitative data to assess the effectiveness of the program. Information compiled from surveys of both the service providers and recipients will provide indicators pointing to program successes, challenges and outcomes.
How will your project benefit Los Angeles?
The Children’s Program addresses two critical needs in Los Angeles: (1) the need for services that help children heal from the effects of witnessing relationship violence, thus breaking the intergenerational cycle of violence; and (2) the need for services to be inclusive of boys and men in a service sector that has previously focused primarily on meeting the needs of women.
There is a tremendous gap in services in Los Angeles specifically directed to reversing the long-term effects that children who witness or experience family violence endure. By establishing an independent program for these children, POV will meet an important need – one with long-term implications for the health and safety of the children who will be healed, and their future families. Research over a 20 year period consistently demonstrates a direct relationship between witnessing or experiencing domestic violence as a child, and adopting high risk behaviors later in life. With the input of mental health professionals, POV has reviewed literature on how violence affects the brains of children and youth who witness it or are victims, and how this damage can be healed. POV staff members will optimize the latest treatment modalities recommended by experts in the field that are designed to help heal the affects of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder in children.
Over the years, POV has become increasingly aware of the ways in which men and boys are affected by relationship and sexual violence, and has reached out to include men on the staff and in the leadership of our programs, including the involvement of boys in our youth leadership programs. We are especially concerned that 1 in 6 boys are identified as victims of child sexual abuse and few services are available to address this trauma. The Children’s Program will provide free counseling services to meet the needs of boys and their families.
By serving child victims in the context of a comprehensive approach to prevent intimate violence, we believe more young people will seek treatment for their abuse at an earlier age. This will transform their lives in a way that nurtures compassion and caring rather than perpetuation of the cycle of abuse.
What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?
Our manifesto states: Our vision is a world without violence. Where no child is abused, no wife battered, no friend raped. A world without terror, without threats, without wounds from intentional actions. Where the strong provide for the vulnerable, where the vulnerable become empowered, where every kind of family is safe and secure, and girls and boys and women and men have a fair and equal chance at the pursuit of happiness in a tolerant and talented society.
Peace Over Violence’s approach toward realizing this vision is to enact effective intervention services, teach violence prevention, and build leadership for future activism. We listen, counsel, support, guide and work to heal survivors of violence. We empower, educate and advocate so that all members of our community can take a stand and be leaders by living lives free from violence. Success in 2050 would be marked by adequate resources for those who have suffered from violence as well as by a strong core of leaders who practice violence prevention and consider violence as an intolerable condition for the residents of Los Angeles.