In the News

Washington Post | ‘Don’t Kill Her!’ Children Who Witness Domestic Violence Carry Lifelong Scars

(03/08/2014) Across the nation, 23 states and Puerto Rico have adopted laws addressing violence committed in front of children. In at least five of those states, it is considered a separate crime. Victim advocates in Virginia and the District say discussions have been held about whether to enact similar legislation but that none currently exists.

Some people worry that such laws could expose an abused parent to charges for allowing a child to witness violence. But no one has quantified the effectiveness or the repercussions of the laws, so it’s difficult to gauge their impact.

Still, former prosecutor Jennifer Long describes them as “a very critical piece of a comprehensive response.”

Long, the director of AEquitas, a Washington-based organization that provides resources to prosecutors who handle cases involving violence against women, says judges don’t always recognize the harm done to children and that these laws keep the issue from being minimized.

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