Defending Childhood Initiative en Federal task force examining violence and children wraps up in Detroit <p>A federal task force looking into the effects of violence on children held its final meeting in Detroit Tuesday.</p><p>It was the last of four task force meetings held as part of US Attorney General Eric Holder&rsquo;s <a href="">Defending Childhood Initiative.</a></p><p>The task force heard from experts who said exposure to violence during childhood has lifelong consequences. And many of those children end up in the criminal justice system themselves.</p><p>Robert Listenbee, Chief of the Juvenile Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. He says there are proven ways to help kids who end up in the system.</p><p>&ldquo;We know that, in the juvenile justice system, diversion programs that take low-level offenders that are at low risk of re-offending out of the system early rather than mixing them with high-risk offenders&hellip;we know that those things work,&quot; Listenbee said. &quot;But we&rsquo;re not using them very well.&rdquo;</p><p>Listenbee says violence is a &ldquo;virus&rdquo; that should be treated like a public health problem.</p><p>But many experts and members of the public testified about how pervasive violence has become the social norm in many communities&mdash;both rural and urban. And it&rsquo;s leaving a generation of traumatized children in its wake.</p><p>That was the case for Lawnya Sherrod. She used to be a gang member in Detroit. Now she helps kids who want to transition out of that life.</p><p>&ldquo;This is what I see every day, all day,&quot; said Sherrod. &quot;I step out, I hear gunshots. It&rsquo;s common. Hearing gunshots is like hearing the school bell ring.&rdquo;</p><p>The task force will outline their findings and suggestions to combat the problem in a report later this year. Tue, 24 Apr 2012 22:05:06 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 7183 at Federal task force examining violence and children wraps up in Detroit