S-5028               _______________________________________________





State of Washington                               51st Legislature                              1990 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Law & Justice (originally sponsored by Senators Benitz and West)



Read first time 2/9/90.



WHEREAS, For too long the police and the courts have been asked to deal with violence as their issue alone; and

          WHEREAS, It is not yet fully recognized, but a certainty nevertheless, that medicine and public health professionals can provide local communities with effective options for preventing violence in our homes and in our communities; and

          WHEREAS, Violence has a clear and measurable impact on the physical and mental health of all citizens; and

          WHEREAS, Although much money is expended on health care in emergency rooms and long-term physical and mental health care, and perpetrators of violence require additional taxpayer dollars expended on law enforcement and courts, the full impact of interpersonal violence can never be adequately explained in dollars; and

          WHEREAS, The abuse of women may be the most frequent cause of physical injury for which women seek medical attention; and

          WHEREAS, Nationally, in 1980 alone, suicide, homicide, and aggravated assault taken together accounted for more than fifty thousand deaths, one million eight hundred thousand hospital days, and seven hundred fifty-four million dollars in health care costs; and

          WHEREAS, Nationally four million Americans are brutally victimized in the privacy of their own homes, including one million children, many of whom are infants, one million senior citizens, and one million five hundred thousand women, many of whom are pregnant; and

          WHEREAS, Examples of interpersonal violence for which there are proven evaluation, treatment, and prevention strategies include child sexual abuse and child abuse, spousal abuse, rape and sexual assault, elder abuse, neglect, assault, and homicide; and

          WHEREAS, No entity in state or local government is presently charged with the authority to address the risk factors that lead to intentional injuries that are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality or to take action to reduce them, to promote health, and to prevent injury; and

          WHEREAS, The state and local public health systems report that they do not have sufficient useful data on regional bases to determine the level of intentional injury in Washington and to develop reduction strategies;

          NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, By the Senate of the state of Washington, the House of Representatives concurring, That a joint select committee on violence prevention is created composed of one representative from each of the two largest caucuses of the Senate and one representative from each of the two largest caucuses of the House of Representatives, appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, respectively, the secretary of the department of health, the director of the public health services for region x, department of health and human services, the Washington coalition against domestic violence; and including but not limited to representatives of the news media, religious leadership, the business community, public and private education, medicine, nursing, public health, law enforcement, coroners, health education, social services, the court system, and academia appointed by the secretary of health; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the committee be cochaired by the Senate and House of Representatives members representing the majority caucuses of each house; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the legislature and department of health shall provide staff for the joint select committee on violence prevention; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the joint select committee shall:

          (1) Plan and staff a multidisciplinary state-wide conference on violence prevention to be held in the fall of 1990 to consider:  Spousal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, acquaintance or date rape and violence, media violence and pornography, rape and marital rape, sexual offenders, abusive partners, innovative medical advances in treating sexual assault, the role of schools, the role of the clergy and church-based programs, teaching nonviolent parenting, substance abuse and violence, incest, and medical responses to abuse;

          (2) Participate with local public health officials in collecting available data to improve the targeting of violence reduction efforts and help local people to evaluate change in state and local programs and political structures; and

          (3) Provide technical assistance to local leaders and elected officials as they plan and design regional conferences on collaborative methods for eliminating and reducing interpersonal violence in local communities; and

          BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the joint select committee be funded by appropriations to the Senate and the House of Representatives and the department of health, and the conference be funded by state and federal funds.