Domestic Violence Prevention Programs at the NLEM: Part II

As we’ve seen in Part One of this blog post, our nation’s law enforcement officers are profoundly affected by the number in their ranks who are killed, assaulted, or experienced trauma each year as a result of having to respond to incidents of domestic violence (DV). And since part of the mission of the National Law Enforcement Museum is to tell the story of American law enforcement and contribute to a safer society, the rationale for the Museum to be involved in developing DV prevention programs is clear.

In recognition of this, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund—the organization building the Museum—received a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation in May 2009. As the Museum’s Community Education Specialist, I am responsible for helping to develop and evaluate the grant’s two DV prevention projects, both of which are designated as “Socially Responsible Education Programs.” The Domestic Violence Prevention Advisory Committee—a diverse group of more than a dozen experts from the fields of DV prevention, law enforcement, and public and museum education—has been brought together to ensure that these two programs are innovative and effective.

K-12 students and their families will visit the Museum for kIDsafe, an interactive, monthly family day event during which they will learn about general safety topics by participating in a variety of activities. The DV component of the event will focus on increasing the visitors’ use of DV prevention strategies. For example, young children could create a list of people to turn to for safety and teenagers might learn to recognize, early on, the signs of an unhealthy relationship. On the other hand, the “DV Awareness and Prevention Program” will be a certification program that will enable teachers, school counselors, and administrators within the Washington metropolitan region to identify and prevent domestic violence among the student population. And by collaborating with their school resource officers—those law enforcement personnel who are school-based—these professionals will be able to create a protocol to help their colleagues vigorously address the issue when it arises.

By developing these programs, the Museum hopes to decrease incidents of domestic violence and to ultimately increase respect, trust and confidence between law enforcement and domestic violence victims, their families and the general public. In mid-October, we were happy to welcome onto our staff Smita Varia as our DV Prevention Specialist, and we view her addition as another step forward on the way to achieving these objectives.