Task Force Discusses Violence Against Children - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Task Force Discusses Violence Against Children

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U.S. leaders say "Nothing is more important than this issue" and former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan says the topic should be "front page news".

The rate of violence against many children is more than an alarming statistic.

It's a reality for many Native American families living in the Dakotas, and it's unacceptable.

That's one of the messages at the American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence hearing.

An advisory committee is discussing violence facing children on American Indian reservations, and trying to figure out how to stop the deep-rooted problem.

"My deep conviction and passion comes from being a childhood survivor, of witnessing violence in my own home and being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse--I hope to speak for many survivors today." says Lonna Hunter, Tlingit and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

Lonna Hunter is just one speaker who is testifying and sharing statistics to the Department of Justice task force.

The committee will have four meetings like this before presenting their final report to get better policies in place and more vital resources where needed.

"It's not enough that we care, we have got to do something, we can't just gather data and we can't just build a case and we can't just keep talking about this, we have got to change outcomes, not just for this generation, but for all of Indian country and for the future of Indian country in our states, in our nation and certainly for Indian nations across our great country." says Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D) North Dakota.

"This is not a race issue, Native people, this is not about race, this is about a political relationship to the United States government, and when we see these astronomical numbers, we understand to the full extent of the historical trauma and realize the full frontal crisis we find ourselves in, in Indian Country with our women and children." says Hunter.

The task force's policy recommendations will go to the Attorney General in October 2014.

Senator Heitkamp also has introduced the "commission on Native children" legislation last month.

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