May | June 2017

OJJDP-Funded Toolkit Helps Police Respond to Children Exposed to Violence

Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence thumbnailFar too many children are exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities. When these children are not identified and supported in their recovery, the exposure may result in academic failure, development of mental health and substance use disorders, and/or involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Police officers are often the first responders to incidents that pose threats to children’s safety and well-being. As noted by Alan R. Hanson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, “An officer’s response to children who have been exposed to violence can be critical to their recovery and a key factor in ensuring their resilience.”

To help law enforcement agencies build or enhance effective responses to this vulnerable population, OJJDP funded the development of Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence: A Toolkit for Law Enforcement.


Resources contained in the toolkit include an organizational self-assessment and action planning tool, a protocol for responding to the needs of children at domestic violence scenes, commonly asked questions from children and example police responses, and principles and practices of death notification to children.


“This toolkit will help officers identify and minimize threats to child safety and foster closer engagement between law enforcement and youth,” said Mr. Hanson, announcing the toolkit’s availability during a May 17 Congressional briefing. The briefing was organized as part of National Police Week.

“Officers trained in responses to trauma will be better prepared to recognize and identify these symptoms in victimized children and family members,” said OJJDP Acting Administrator Eileen M. Garry. “Now, we have a framework that enables law enforcement to plan, train, and respond to help children reestablish a sense of security and stability that is essential to recovery.”


Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence: A Toolkit for Law Enforcement was funded by OJJDP and developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Yale Child Study Center. The toolkit is available online.