Task Force Examines Children’s Exposure to Violence in Rural and Tribal Communities
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence held its second public hearing, on Jan. 31. in Albuquerque, N.M. The task force gathered testimony on the epidemic of children’s exposure to violence from nationally recognized experts and members of the Albuquerque community.
Hearing speakers included Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, task force co-chairs Joe Torre and Robert Listenbee, task force members as well as Albuquerque and regional residents who have experienced family, community and other types of violence.
UNC School of Social Work Professor Paul Smokowski, MSW, Ph.D., CP, provided testimony at the hearing, in the 11 a.m. panel discussion on “Life of a Teenager in Rural America.” Research indicates that youth in rural and tribal communities experience the same problems and similar levels of exposure to violence as their urban and suburban peers. However, rural youth more often encounter economic and physical barriers that prevent them from receiving adequate care and services necessary for healthy development. Panelists examined some of the challenges specific to youth in rural and tribal communities.
In his role as director of the North Carolina Academic Center for Excellence in Youth Violence Prevention (NC-ACE), Smokowski oversees the nation’s first rural youth violence prevention center, which serves Robeson County, one of the most ethnically diverse rural counties in the country. Smokowski directs the UNC School of Social Work’s Latino Acculturation and Health Project. He co-authored Becoming Bicultural: Risk, Resilience, and Latino Youth.