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(LOS ANGELES) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today joined the Blue Shield of California Foundation in urging California's business community to help fight domestic violence by bringing training, awareness and knowledge of the physical, emotional and financial effects of family abuse into the workplace.
"Knowledgeable employers and co-workers are often the best chance many victims of abusive physical and mental relationships have to escape dangerous situations," Lockyer said. "For that reason alone, it is critical to bring awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence into the workplace, where signs of abuse can be recognized and the victims can receive the help they so desperately need to protect themselves and their children."
The California Department of Justice is the first state agency to provide its employees with extensive training on recognizing and dealing with the effects of domestic violence. In partnership with the Blue Shield of California Foundation, more than 700 managers in the Attorney General's offices in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego this year have received extensive training on domestic violence and its effects.
"We know that domestic violence doesn't stay at home when an employee comes to work," said Dr. Jeffrey Rideout, president of Blue Shield of California Foundation. "We are proud to help the Attorney General continue his long battle against domestic violence by arming California workers with the knowledge, skills and resources they need to help break the cycle of domestic abuse."
Rideout said the rising emotional, physical and financial costs associated with violence between intimate partners prompted Blue Shield of California to bring the fight against domestic violence into the workplace six years ago. The Foundation's "Blue Shield Against Violence" program offers training and consultation on domestic violence at no charge to any California employer. The program has provided training and consultation to more than 100 California employers, including the San Francisco Giants, United Behavioral Health, Liz Claiborne and the California State Automobile Association. The state Department of Justice is the only state agency to provide the workplace training so far, but Rideout said he hopes every public and private employer in the state will consider participating.
As part of Blue Shield of California's commitment to reduce and prevent domestic violence, Rideout announced the Foundation is donating $140,000 to 100 domestic violence shelters in California, including 17 in Los Angeles.
The California Department of Justice is tackling domestic violence outside the workplace, as well. Since July, the Department's "Armed and Prohibited" program, which seeks to remove guns from convicted felons, spousal abusers and those deemed dangerous to themselves or others, has resulted in the seizure of more than 120 handguns, rifles and assault weapons and the arrest of more than 20 individuals, almost half of whom were "prohibited" because they were the subject of an active domestic violence restraining order or had been convicted of a domestic violence offense.
The Attorney General's Office also has improved and expanded the Domestic Violence Restraining Order Database, which links police and sheriffs agencies throughout the state to a roster of individuals who are the subject of a domestic violence restraining order. The Attorney General's Office provides support and training for Domestic Violence Death Review teams made up of local law enforcement officials, health professionals and battered women and child protection advocates who review domestic violence homicide reports in an attempt to identify where the system failed and what steps can be taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. It also has enhanced and expanded the law that creates the Spousal Abuse Prosecution Program for local district attorneys.
In addition, the Attorney General's Office established a program that brings together on a monthly basis various state and local agencies and organizations that play a role in fighting domestic violence and assisting victims. The Domestic Violence Interagency Task Force keeps track of services and programs its members are providing to improve coordination and reduce conflict in addressing domestic violence. For more information about domestic violence prevention programs and publications, visit the Attorney General's Crime and Violence Prevention Center website at www.safestate.org
Founded in 1939, Blue Shield of California is a not-for-profit corporation with approximately 2.3 million members, 4,000 employees and 20 offices throughout California. The Blue Shield of California Foundation conducts grassroots program support and research with an emphasis on patient safety, quality of care, domestic violence prevention, medical technology assessment and reducing the number of uninsured. For more information, visit the company's web site at www.mylifepath.com or the Foundation at www.blueshieldcafoundation.org.