UCSF/Mount Zion violence prevention project receives grant to establish clinic,,for child witnesses of domestic violence

As many as 10 million children witness acts of interpersonal violence each year. Such experiences can have lasting effects on a child's development and be as traumatic as being a victim of physical or sexual abuse, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

To address this major public health problem, which historically has received little public attention, the UCSF/Mount Zion Violence Prevention Project (MZVPP) recently received a three-year $470,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to establish a program and clinic to treat traumatized children who have witnessed domestic violence.

The project, called Living in a Non-Violent Community (LINC), will identify children who have witnessed family violence and provide a child-centered, developmentally sequenced range of interventions to prevent these children from developing subsequent chronic health conditions.

LINC is a collaboration of the UCSF/MZVPP, San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, UCSF Division of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, and the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation.

"We hope the clinic will serve as a model for other California communities in addressing issues of child witnesses to violence," said Margaret M. McNamara, MD, chief of pediatrics at UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center and a founding member of the UCSF/MZVPP. "We want our community to recognize this problem and utilize the clinic so that we are better able to respond to the needs of traumatized children and prevent maladaptive effects of witnessing violence in the home."

McNamara added that while services for battered women such as crisis intervention, shelter, housing, counseling, medical and legal services are linked, similar support for their children is often inadequate.

The program will develop standard protocols for responding to situations where a child has witnessed violence, and to refer the family to direct interventio

Contact: Abby Sinnott
University of California - San Francisco

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