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New online learning module gives children of domestic violence a voice

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Media note: For the Honor Our Voices electronic press kit, see www.honorourvoices.org/press.html.

Over half of the residents of battered women’s shelters in the United States are children (National Network to End Domestic Violence, 2010). Now, a new, innovative online training program aims to elevate children’s voices, so that service providers may better hear, understand, and respond to the children and families they serve.

The project, called Honor Our Voices, www.honorourvoices.org, was created by the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse and the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, with support from the Avon Foundation for Women.

Honor Our Voices presents information on child exposure to domestic violence by engaging participants with the voices and stories of children who have experienced domestic violence firsthand. The stories are composites of real life experiences and are told through a combination of diary entries, pictures, and audio clips. Alongside each diary entry, the current research and effective practices related to the content of the diary are laid out with headings that detail an area of effective practice.    

"This learning experience is informed by some of the best practitioners and researchers in the field,” says Jeffrey Edleson, professor of social work at the University of Minnesota and one of the world’s leading authorities on children exposed to domestic violence. “It provides a unique focus on the needs of children from the children’s perspectives.

“With information gained from this site, professionals will be able to better respond to the needs of these children,” he continues. “And it is freely available for those professionals working on the front lines to complete at their own pace while sitting at their desk or at home."  

Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation for Women, said of the project, “Honor Our Voices will enable children’s voices to be heard when they speak out about the domestic violence they have experienced, which is the goal of the Avon Foundation’s Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program. We are so pleased that our funding has enabled MINCAVA to create such an innovative and essential tool.”

The launch of the Honor Our Voices site will be the first week of October, which coincides with October’s designation as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

About MINCAVA: The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse was established at the University of Minnesota in 1994 by the Minnesota State Legislature with a charge "to improve the quality of higher education related to violence." Today MINCAVA is considered a leader in innovative violence-related education, research and Internet publishing and now coordinates four nationally and internationally renowned projects: The MINCAVA Electronic Clearinghouse, Violence Against Women Online Resources, the Link Project, and the VAWnet applied research forum.

About CASCW: The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare was established in 1992 with federal Title IV-E funding and a grant from the Bush Foundation. The center brings the University of Minnesota together with county, tribal, state and community social services in a partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and families involved with public child welfare by educating human service professionals, fostering collaboration across systems and disciplines, informing policy makers and the public, and expanding the child welfare knowledge base.

About Avon Foundation for Women: The Avon Foundation for Women, the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter most to women, was founded in 1955 to improve the lives of women. Through 2010, Avon global philanthropy has donated more than $800 million in more than 50 countries for causes most important to women. Today, Avon philanthropy focuses its funding on breast cancer research and access to care through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, and efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program. Avon also responds generously to provide support for relief and recovery efforts in times of major natural disasters and emergencies.

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Honor Our Voices presents information on child exposure to domestic violence by engaging participants with the voices and stories of children who have experienced domestic violence firsthand.

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