Wednesday, June 23, 2010

“A Hand to Hold Onto” surveys American Indian/Alaska Native young adults nationwide on victimization of children in Indian Country.


An historic project will be launched in Indian Country in June. A trio of nonprofit and educational organizations has created a research project in order to better reflect the nature of child abuse and other types of victimization across all of Indian Country—a survey that has never been attempted before—with project input from young Native leaders along the way.

The survey project, titled “A Hand to Hold Onto,” is managed by the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA), the Calumet campus of Purdue University, and Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America). The project’s goal is to survey 1,000 young adults about victimization, its consequences, and protective factors they experienced prior to age 18. A separate survey about the perceived scope of victimization and juvenile delinquency in their communities will be asked of adults, caregivers, tribal elders, and tribal leaders. The data will provide a clearer picture of child abuse and victimization and better inform tribal communities and child welfare advocates in order to improve programs and services for youth and families.

Dr. Kathleen Fox, NICWA director of research, said, “This project was shaped by tribal youth who reviewed the survey questions and even tested the survey drafts, and gave input on how to best reach survey participants.”

“The National Congress of American Indians’ youth leadership learned about the project and provided us with direction. Even the name of the project comes from a poll that was answered by Native youth across the country,” she said.

Youth, in order to be survey participants, must be between 18 and 25 years of age, of American

Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) descent, and willing to complete the online survey, which takes approximately thirty minutes. The survey is anonymous and participant’s answers cannot be linked back to the person. A $10 Gift Card is provided to each survey participant, limited to one per person. Information about the survey is available at the following link. The survey begins mid-June and will continue through July 2010.

Patricia Carter (Nez Perce), NCAI Youth Ambassador and NICWA board member, presented a briefing paper about the project to the NCAI youth leadership at the national convention in Palm Springs, California, last October. She emphasized the opportunity for youth to contribute directly to the project’s goals.

“You can speak the truth about these issues—how many times have we really been asked? And how many times can we, Native youth, directly help what resources our communities receive?” Carter said.

"By launching this national survey of American Indian young people and how best to serve their needs and those of their families," said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, "this project is laying the groundwork for change across our nation. Every day we see growing interest and excitement and by partnering with the National Indian Child Welfare Association and Purdue University Calumet, we've brought together a wealth of knowledge and expertise that we feel will make a real impact in the lives of children, their families and the communities they live in."


NICWA is a national nonprofit and the most comprehensive source of information on AI/AN child welfare and works on behalf of AI/AN children and families. You can visit the above link or call (503) 222-4044 for more information.

PCA America’s mission to “prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children” includes all forms of abuse and neglect, whether physical, sexual, educational, or emotional. You can visit the above link or call (312) 663-3520.

The Institute for Social and Policy Research (ISPR) at Purdue University Calumet is an interdisciplinary research organization involved in doing applied research related to social, health, and education issues. You can visit the above link or you can call (219) 989-3145.


From the Department of Justice:

The rate of victimization of AI/AN persons is double that of all races.

AI/AN youth age 17 or under have an alcohol violation rate nearly double that of all races.

AI/AN experience one violent crime for every 10 residents age 12 or older.

From the literature:

Seventy-four percent of youth in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are AI/AN; this is an increase of 50% since 1994 (Federal Bureau of Prisons, 2008).

In several states, AI/AN youth make up from 29% to 42% of all youth in secure confinement (Guilfoyle, M., 2003).

Incarcerated AI/AN youth are much more likely to be subjected to the harshest treatment in the most restrictive environments (Youth Law Center, 2003).

The suicide rate for AI/AN juveniles (57 per 1 million) is almost twice the rate for White juveniles and the highest for any race (Youth Violence Research Bulletin, March 2004).

Cultural pride and identification has a positive effect on Native youth and is associated with:

Increased school success (Journal of American Indian Education)
Lower rates of alcohol and drug use (The Journal of Primary Prevention)
Higher self-esteem (Social Work Research)

Contact NICWA for more information:

Kristy Alberty, Executive Communications Manager

503.222.4044, ext. 133

1 comment:

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