Story by: Crystal Lewis
Staff at the Administration for Children’s Services have recently begun learning how to identify stalking in order to help prevent domestic violence and connect survivors with resources as part of a collaboration with the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.
The project was based on the city’s Coordinated Approach to Preventing Stalking program, which was launched in 2014 in Staten Island. Though 70 percent of domestic-violence survivors report being stalked, the number of stalking arrests was far lower, ENDGBV found. The agency worked with the NYPD to retrain law enforcement on what constitutes stalking and laws related to the issue.
In late January, the agency kicked off its partnership with ACS, providing lessons to legal staff within the child-welfare system.
“This started out as a criminal-justice partnership but it became clear to us that other city agencies could benefit,” said Elizabeth Dank, Deputy Commissioner and General Counsel at ENDGBV. “We decided to collaborate with ACS on this project because there’s a strong connection between intimate-partner violence and child-welfare cases.”
Studies have shown that in 30-to-60 percent of homes where domestic violence occurred, children were also being abused or neglected. One reported that 50 percent of husbands who abused their wives also physically harmed their children.
Stalking was the number-one abusive behavior found in intimate-partner violence cases, ENDGBV reported. The initiative teaches staff stalking behaviors, what challenges stalking victims face, and how technology is manipulated by stalkers.
Ms. Dank said that beyond raising awareness of intimate-partner violence, the most important goal of the project was to connect survivors with resources. Staff will learn about services that can help victims, including family-justice centers where they can receive counseling and prepare a safety plan.
Ms. Dank said the agency hopes to soon begin training Child Protective Specialists and other ACS staff.
ACS Commissioner David Hansell said the partnership would provide child-welfare staff “with the resources and skills they need to help keep stalking victims and their families safe.”
“Awareness, action and advocacy are essential to prevent stalking and hold stalking offenders accountable,” he added.