Violent and
Abusive Behavior


Violent and abusive behavior is a serious and growing problem in the United States and West Virginia. Any level of violence is a matter of concern for law enforcement, state government, and the state at large.

Violent and abusive behavior results in intentional injuries occurring due to the use of force with the intent to harm others or oneself. Specifically, violent crime in West Virginia involves the element of personal confrontation between the perpetrator and the victim and is considered more serious than property (or nonviolent) crime. Many agencies and service providers are involved with the social service and criminal justice delivery systems. Such cooperation requires commitment, participation, and joint initiatives by groups that ordinarily do not work together, including public health entities, law enforcement organizations, social service providers, mental health providers, children's services organizations, legal and judicial agencies, and others. West Virginia has an active, well-trained, and professional cadre of law enforcement officers, social service providers, domestic violence professionals, etc. Each of









7.1 Increase to 50% number of abused children who receive appropriate follow-up

No data available

7.2 Reduce episodes of domestic violence against women by 20%

See Objective Update

7.3 Reduce suicides among ages 15-24 to 8.2 per 100,000




the entities dealing with crime, criminals, and victims has gained significant expertise in the execution of its primary role. However, to make a more significant impact in further reducing crimes of violence, cross-sectional networking and creative approaches are necessary. These are currently in the process of being formulated.

The Objectives

OBJECTIVE 7.1 Increase to at least 50% the number of children identified as physically or sexually abused who receive physical and mental evaluation with appropriate follow-up as a means of breaking the intergenerational cycle of abuse.

UPDATE West Virginia child protective services offered services in 487 cases for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1995. No other data are available. Services available through child protective services include counseling, shelters, foster care, vocational education, day care, adoption, and enrichment programs.

OBJECTIVE 7.2 Reduce episodes of domestic violence directed against women by male partners by 20% by the year 2000.

UPDATE Nationally, assaults against women by their partners have more than doubled since 1987. West Virginia's crime data provided by the Department of Public Safety (State Police) indicate that in 1995, 9,601 domestic violence complaints were reported, 86.1% of which were made by women. This represents a 6.8% increase in number of complaints since 1994.

OBJECTIVE 7.3 Reduce suicides among youth and young adults aged 15-24 to no more than 8.2 per 100,000 population (aged 15-24).

UPDATE Suicides among youth and young adults aged 15-24 have fluctuated over the time period 1980 through 1995 from a low of 7.6 deaths per 100,000 in 1987 to a high of 17.2 deaths per 100,000 in 1993 (see Figure 1). Unfortunately, there is an upward trend in youth suicide rates in West Virginia, with the year 2000 rate projected to be 15.9. This far exceeds the target rate of 8.2.

According to the most recent U.S. data, in 1994 the national suicide rate among persons aged 15-24 was 13.8 per 100,000, compared to a state rate of 12.6 in that year.

Meeting the Objectives

Health Promotion Channels
for Achieving Objectives:

Public Health Programs
Health Care System
Higher Education

As noted, many agencies and groups are involved in addressing the issues of violence and abuse in our society. Collectively, their efforts involve all of the health promotion channels to the community listed in the box above and reviewed in greater detail in the Introduction to this document. Some of the specific steps taken in the state to address domestic violence are discussed below.

In the fall of 1991, a special task force mandated by Senate Bill 569 promulgated final legislative rules and regulations dealing with the law enforcement response to domestic violence. For the first time in West Virginia, a consistent set of procedures was given to all law enforcement officers to be followed in domestic violence cases. A domestic violence task force was formed by the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health (WVBPH) with the assistance of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence to address a public health approach to the problem of domestic violence. This task force has set goals that will produce an awareness of the issue of domestic violence in the state.

The goals of the domestic violence task force are as follows:

The Attorney General's Office, in a collaborative effort with the domestic violence task force, WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Women's Commission, YMCA, Parkersburg Women's Club, and other organizations, sponsored the "Silent Witness March" that brought attention to the many in our state who have died as a result of domestic violence.

Another concern of the public health community is the incidence of rape in West Virginia. With the passing of the federal crime bill in 1995, specific monies were given to educate students in middle and high schools in the realm of rape prevention. Monies were also made available to educate the professional community about rape prevention. In a collaborative effort between the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (WVFRIS) and the Office of Maternal and Child Health, WVBPH, among others, innovative programs are currently being formulated. The WVFRIS rape crisis centers and their hotlines are providing vital services to victims of rape. These key players in rape prevention are forming a Rape Prevention Coalition to address rape prevention awareness issues in West Virginia.

Violent and Abusive Behavior - Meeting the Objectives

Plan Coordinator:
Ted J. Johnson, Director
Division of Mental Health and Community Rehabilitation Services
Office of Behavioral Health Services, DHHR
(304) 558-8994/FAX (304) 558-1008


Plan Coordinator:
Penny Byrnside, RN, BA, Program Director
West Virginia Injury Prevention Program
Office of Emergency Medical Services
WV Bureau for Public Health
(304) 558-3956/FAX (304) 558-1437

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