Last night, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden held a reception at the Naval Observatory to celebrate the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) being signed into law, as well as call on a new generation to take action to reduce the high rates of violence and assault that continues to threaten young men and women across the country.
Speaking before a crowd that included many of the men and women who supported the Vice President’s efforts to see the Act become law on September 13, 1994, the Vice President remarked on how it was VAWA that exposed a “flaw that lay as part of the fabric of American society”– the fact that the mere discussion of violence and abuse being committed against women was considered by many to be taboo.
Beyond shattering this notion, the law redefined the way domestic violence is handled through changes in law enforcement, improvements in the criminal justice system and the establishment of shelters and services for victims.
Despite so much progress, young women still face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault– statistics that have led the Vice President over the past year to refocus his commitment to reducing violence on teens and young adults, aged 16-24.
“I’ll bet every single one of you knows somebody who have been or is being abused,” the Vice President said, speaking to youth victims and activists in the crowd. “And so, there’s somebody who needs help. They need our help. They are young women in high schools, on campuses. And we’ve got to do a lot more than we’ve been doing.”
He also discussed in a video message he released earlier in the day that calls on high school and college students to share their ideas for how to prevent dating violence and sexual assault at their schools and on their college campuses. Over the next two weeks, young men and women are invited to join this important conversation by submitting their ideas via the whitehouse.gov/1is2many page or by using the hashtag #1is2many on Twitter.
“The point is there’s a lot of really fresh, good ideas about practical things we can do,” said the Vice President.
The Vice President also discussed the scope of new and innovative efforts to address teen dating violence and sexual assault that are underway across the federal agencies. For example, the Treasury Department is helping victims get education about rebuilding their financial situations and in July, the Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with the Vice President’s Office and the White House Office of Technology Policy, launched the “Apps Against Abuse” Challenge– a national competition to develop a software “app” for mobile devices that will help keep students safe on campus.