Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Advocating for Our Children

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

It is hard to imagine that anyone would want to do anything but love, protect and nurture a child. Unfortunately, crimes are committed to even the most innocent of victims. As we recognize April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CalVCP has renewed our commitment to help those who have been affected by this terrible crime.

Child abuse can impact a child’s life well into adulthood. Statistics show that child abuse fuels crime and has adverse health effects. Fortunately, there are many organizations that are helping our children through advocacy, safety, education, research, and assistance programs. Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) is one such non-profit organization. With chapters all over the world, this international organization exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children and empower and strengthen children to not feel afraid. A wounded child who has had a BACA intervention is 4 times more likely to testify in court. In fact most BACA children have improved self-confidence, diminished regressive behavior, increased feelings of safety, willingness to communicate, reduced feelings of guilt, decreased “acting out” behaviors, independence, and much more.

California takes crimes committed against young people very seriously and is dedicated to helping our children receive assistance. CalVCP provides assistance to victims of many crimes related to child abuse such as molest, corporal injury, illegal sexual intercourse, endangerment, rape, pornography and incest among others.

More than ever, our program is committed to aiding children as quickly as possible. Consequently, over the last two years CalVCP assisted nearly 14,000 child abuse victims paying over $22 million in assistance. Last year alone, CalVCP provided over $10 million in assistance for the costs of mental health treatment, nearly half a million dollars to pay for relocation and almost $200,000 for medical expenses.

It is important for us to do our part in staying informed and educated, and most importantly, to recognize the warning signs of child abuse. Please take some time to educate yourself through the various resources available by visiting www.preventchildabuse.org or www.bacaworld.org. I hope you will join me in recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. May we further educate ourselves, consider volunteering, and support prevention programs!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Reshaping the Future, Honoring the Past

As we recognize and honor National Crime Victim Rights Week we are reminded of the impact violent crime has and of the victims it leaves behind.

Last year, nearly 175,000 violent crimes were reported in California. And with each crime, countless lives have been turned upside down. We often see much attention spent on the cause or significance of the crime itself or even on the offender and the why and how of the crime, but we must not neglect the victims these crimes leave behind.

In California, there are a variety of programs and services offered that victims of crimes may receive to help in their recovery. Services to help protect, guide, compensate and aid victims of crime are available. Since 1965, the California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) has been assisting victims of violent crime and to date, has helped thousands of victims and provided more than $2 billion in compensation for victims in the state.

Victims of violent crime endure significant trauma and the process to find help, whether it be for monetary, relocation or mental health assistance, should be as smooth as possible. At CalVCP, we are working diligently to make our program more accessible, more responsive and more efficient.

I am proud of the work that takes place here at the CalVCP and I am also proud of the many government partners such as the California Emergency Management Agency, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Department of Justice that help us provide aid to victims and their families.

A number of nonprofit groups have played key roles in protecting and assisting victims of crime and have helped make California a nation leader in providing victim services. Organizations such as the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault have helped thousands of sexual assault victims find assistance and find a voice against this horrific crime. There are a number of victim advocate groups throughout the state that have provided much needed services to California’s victims as well. Organizations like the Crime Victim Action Alliance and Crime Victims United of California are great examples of how nonprofit groups are helping to provide assistance to crime victims. I am proud to have them as partners in our daily outreach to victims of crime in California.

Although California continues to be a leader in all services for victims of crime, there is still much work to be done. Thanks to legislation such as Marcy’s Law, Amber’s Law and the Victims’ Bill of Rights, those who have suffered as a result of a violent crime, have the help available to assist them in all aspects of their victimization. At CalVCP, we will continue to work with our partners and sister State agencies to provide the help, compassion and services for California’s victims of violent crime.

For more information on National Crime Victim Rights Week or the California Victim Compensation Program visit us at www.calvcp.ca.gov.