Domestic violence Task Force unveils prevention recommendations
The Connecituct State Legislature's Domestic Violence Task Force unveiled its final recommendations on how to best prevent and address family violence and meet the needs of survivors earlier this month. State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-Darien) was one of 20 representatives from both sides of the aisle that participated in the task force.
"It was an eye opening experience, quite frankly. Fifty thousand reported cases of domestic violence occur in the state each year," Wood said. "We looked at what we could do to help lower the numbers of domestic violence cases in the state, whether it be legislative action or recommendations for different agencies who handle domestic violence in the state."
Given the state's current budget challenges, the task force was mindful to produce recommendations that could have meaningful results at minimal to no cost. But some recommendations come with a price tag.
"Some domestic violence shelters are not staffed 24/7, and one of our recommendations was to make that happen," Wood said. "It's hard not to fund something like that, because if someone needs help at two in the morning, then they need help at two in the morning."
The task force's recommendations were broken down into four sections: human services; judicial; education; and recommendations for future consideration.
In the education cluster, the task force recommends to "add teen dating and domestic violence to the list of subject areas included in the curriculum and expand in-service training to include these subject areas so that educators and staff can receive training in how to identify and respond to warning signs of teen dating violence."
According to the task force, this curriculum has already been developed by the Department of Education. It also recommends utilizing existing funds to create public service announcements aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence and teen dating violence.
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. And awareness can help get at the root of the problem, Wood said.
"There's absolutely domestic violence in our community. People may not want to talk about it, but it absolutely exists. I know there are domestic violence cases in Darien," she said.
During 2009, the Darien Police Department responded to 95 domestic disputes. And the effects of those incidents can be wider reaching than the physical injuries that may have been incurred, Wood said.
"Domestic violence, even though there were 50,000 cases last year, the victims are far more than that," she said. "That situation in New Canaan recently, where the man [allegedly] attacked his wife, their two kids -- they [allegedly] saw that. They're going to carry that with them for the rest of their lives."
One of the recommendations the task force made for future consideration is to strengthen violence-related trauma services offered to children in the state.
Now that the recommendations have been made, Wood is looking forward to seeing them put in action.
"We started the legislative session two weeks ago, so some of these are going to be brought forward as legislation," she said. "They could be actionable in the next few months or so, and really make a change now."