January | February 2019

Overview: OJJDP’s Special Victims and Violent Offenders Division

This article is the third in a series highlighting the work of the programmatic divisions established under OJJDP’s October 2018 reorganization.

Led by Associate Administrator Jim Antal, OJJDP’s Special Victims and Violent Offenders Division focuses on protecting children from victimization, preventing and responding to youth violence, and holding delinquent youth appropriately accountable to both crime victims and communities.

Following are highlights of the division’s work:

Strengthening the Capacity of Law Enforcement and Prosecutors To Address Juvenile Crime

Through its gang suppression initiatives, the Office provides planning and implementation support to eligible communities that demonstrate their readiness to put a comprehensive strategic plan into action based on multilateral, data-driven strategies. These strategies include an enhanced focus on partnerships between law enforcement and prosecutors. In addition, OJJDP supports the National Gang Center, which provides best‐practice information, training, and strategic tools to prevent youth from joining gangs, intervene with those who are gang‐involved, and suppress criminal street gang activity.

OJJDP funds programs that foster comprehensive collaborations involving law enforcement and a broad range of stakeholders to prevent and respond to children’s exposure to violence as well as youth victimization and violence, especially gun and gang violence. In addition, OJJDP is providing funding to further the training, education, and professional development of juvenile prosecutors.

Supporting Law Enforcement and Community Responses to Missing and Exploited Children

OJJDP plays an important role in supporting the law enforcement response to missing and exploited children through three primary efforts: the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the AMBER Alert program.

The ICAC Task Force program responds to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation through the work of 61 task forces representing more than 4,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. OJJDP also provides significant funding to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an information clearinghouse and resource for families of missing and exploited children and the professionals who serve them. The OJJDP-supported AMBER Alert program activates urgent bulletins in the most serious child-abduction cases and offers, among other resources, training for law enforcement personnel to improve responses to missing, endangered, and abducted children.

In addition, the Office supports community responses to missing and exploited children through the Specialized Services and Mentoring for Child and Youth Victims of Sex Trafficking initiative and the Youth With Sexual Behavior Problems (YSBP) program. Through the Specialized Services and Mentoring initiative, OJJDP supports the efforts of organizations to develop or enhance their mentoring capacity, facilitate outreach efforts, and increase the availability of direct services for child and youth victims of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic sex trafficking. The YSBP program provides a range of intervention and supervision services for youth with sexual behavior problems and treatment services to promote healing in child victims and their families.

Promoting Best Practices for Investigating Child Sexual Abuse and Supporting Victims

OJJDP manages the Victims of Child Abuse Act program, which develops the capacity of communities to respond effectively to child abuse through children’s advocacy centers, court-appointed special advocates (CASA), and training for judicial personnel programs.

The children’s advocacy centers national program funds local children’s advocacy centers and multidisciplinary teams that provide a coordinated response to victims of child abuse and exploitation. The program’s approach encompasses investigation, assessment, intervention, and prosecution to ensure better outcomes for victims and their families. Through the regional Children’s Advocacy Centers, the program offers onsite technical assistance and indepth team training for prosecutors, social workers, and other associated professionals. The CASA program supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy to help ensure that abused and neglected children have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.


To access a chart that reflects OJJDP’s new structure following the recent reorganization, visit the Office’s website.

To learn more about the Office’s State Relations and Assistance Division and Intervention Division, read the September/October issue and November/December issue, respectively, of OJJDP News @ a Glance.