Department of Justice Announces the Defending Childhood Task Force

Experts Will Examine and Address the Issue of Children Exposed to Violence

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–October 13, 2011.  Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli today announced the establishment of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.  The task force is part of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative, a project arising from the need to respond to the epidemic levels of exposure to violence faced by our nation’s children. 

 “Our vision of justice must start with preventing crime before it happens, protecting our children, and ending cycles of violence and victimization. Every young person deserves the opportunity to grow and develop free from fear of violence,” said Associate Attorney General Perrelli. “The task force will develop knowledge and spread awareness about the pervasive problem of children’s exposure to violence – this will ultimately improve our homes, cities, towns and communities.”     

Following the release of the compelling findings of the first National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence (2009), Attorney General Eric Holder launched the Defending Childhood initiative in September 2010.  The goals of the initiative are to prevent children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses, reduce the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence, and develop knowledge about and increase awareness of this issue. 

The Defending Childhood Task Force is composed of 14 leading experts from diverse fields and perspectives, including practitioners, child and family advocates, academic experts and licensed clinicians.  Joe Torre, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, founder of the Joe Torre Safe at Home® Foundation, and a witness to domestic violence as a child himself, will serve as the co-chair of the task force. 

Over the course of the year, the Defending Childhood Task Force will conduct four public hearings around the country to learn from practitioners, policymakers, academics and community members about the extent and nature of the problem of children’s exposure to violence in the United States, both as victims and as witnesses.   The task force will also identify promising practices, programming and community strategies used to prevent and respond to children’s exposure to violence. 

Hearings will take place in Baltimore; Albuquerque, N.M.; Miami; and Detroit. The first hearing of the task force will be held in Baltimore on Nov. 29, and 30, 2011, at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. 

The Defending Childhood Task Force will issue a final report to the attorney general presenting its findings and comprehensive policy recommendations. The report will serve as a blueprint for preventing children’s exposure to violence and for mitigating the negative effects experienced by children exposed to violence across the United States. 

The members of the task force include the following:

Co-chair: Joe Torre, Chairman of the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation. Mr. Torre, Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations and former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees, created his foundation to educate students, parents, teachers and school faculty about the effects of domestic violence.

Father Gregory Boyle, S.J., Founder of Homeboy Industries.   Fr. Boyle was ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1984 and serves as a member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board.

Sharon W. Cooper, M.D., CEO of Developmental & Forensic Pediatrics, P.A. Dr. Cooper serves as a consultant and board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Sarah Deer, Citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. Professor Deer is an assistant professor at William Mitchell College of Law and her scholarship focuses on the intersection of tribal law and victims’ rights.

Deanne Tilton Durfee, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. Ms. Tilton Durfee also serves as chairperson of the National Center on Child Fatality Review.

Thea James, M.D., Director of the Boston Medical Center Massachusetts Violence Intervention Advocacy Program.   Dr. James is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Boston Medical Center/Boston University School of Medicine.

Kevin Jennings, CEO of Be the Change. Mr. Jennings founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Alicia Lieberman, Ph.D., Director of the Early Trauma Treatment Network.   Dr. Lieberman is Irving B. Harris Endowed Chair of Infant Mental Health at UCSF Department of Psychiatry and director of the Child Trauma Research Program, San Francisco General Hospital.

Robert Listenbee, J.D., Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia.  Mr. Listenbee also serves as a member of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Robert Macy, Ph.D., Founder, Director, and President of the International Center for Disaster Resilience–Boston.   Dr. Macy is also the founder and executive director of the Boston Children’s Foundation and serves as co-director of the Division of Disaster Resilience at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Steven Marans, Ph.D., Director of the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence. Dr. Marans is Professor of Child Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, and also serves as director of the Childhood Violent Trauma Center at Yale University.

Jim McDonnell, Chief of Police, Long Beach Police Department, California. Chief McDonnell teaches public policy issues at University of California, Los Angeles, and served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 28 years.

Georgina Mendoza, J.D., Senior Deputy Attorney and Community Safety Director for the City of Salinas, Calif.  Ms. Mendoza has been involved in the California Cities Gang Prevention Network for the past four years and serves as the Salinas lead in the White House’s National Forum on Youth Violence.

Retired Major General Antonio Taguba, President of TDLS Consulting, LLC, and Chairman of Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors (PPALM).   General Taguba served 34 years on active duty, including serving as Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC)/ARCENT/Third U.S. Army, forward deployed to Kuwait and Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For more information about Attorney General Holder’s Defending Childhood initiative, the Defending Childhood Task Force, and the upcoming hearings, please visit