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Journal Issue: Domestic Violence and Children Volume 9 Number 3 Winter 1999

Statement of Purpose
Richard E. Behrman

Statement of Purpose

The primary purpose of The Future of Children is to disseminate timely information about major issues related to children's well-being, with special emphasis on providing objective analysis and evaluation, translating existing knowledge into effective programs and policies, and promoting constructive institutional change. In attempting to achieve these objectives, we are targeting a multidisciplinary audience of national leaders, including policymakers, practitioners, legislators, executives, and professionals in the public and private sectors. This publication is intended to complement, not duplicate, the kind of technical analysis found in academic journals and in the general coverage of children's issues by the popular press and special interest groups.

This issue of the journal focuses on children who are exposed to domestic violence, defined here as violence between adult intimate partners. The articles in this journal issue analyze the current research regarding the prevalence and effects of child exposure to domestic violence and other forms of violence, describe legislative and service system responses to families struggling with domestic violence, and suggest strategies for improving intervention and prevention programs. Although data are limited, research indicates that millions of children are exposed to domestic violence each year, and that this exposure can have significant negative effects on children's emotional, social, and cognitive development. Families affected by domestic violence touch all service systems and may face multiple problems, including poverty, substance abuse, and exposure to other forms of violence. Many public and private organizations that serve these families, including health care, child welfare, and mental health agencies, as well as the courts, do not have domestic violence protocols and training programs in place to guide and inform service provision. Most children in these families are not currently being identified and treated through existing intervention programs. Although promising programs throughout the country are providing special services to children affected by domestic violence, typically these programs have not been evaluated for their effectiveness in improving outcomes for these children. As the Analysis and Recommendations article states, the potential harms to children of exposure to domestic violence necessitate action shaped by the best information currently available, and new research that improves this knowledge base.

We welcome your comments and suggestions regarding this issue of The Future of Children. Our intention is to encourage informed debate about domestic violence and children. To this end we invite correspondence to the Editor. We would also appreciate your comments about the approach we have taken in presenting the focus topic and welcome your suggestions for future topics.