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Suzanne Reynolds quoted in Winston-Salem Journal editorial calling for taskforce to curb domestic violence

Domestic-violence homicides doubled in Forsyth County in 2011 and, as if such needless and tragic deaths aren’t bad enough, there appears to be a troubling increase in the number of incidents where children are present. It’s time for a community-wide task force to take on this problem.

The local increase is happening while statewide and national homicide rates are declining. Three of the 15 homicides in the city of Winston-Salem and all three homicides in Forsyth County in 2011 were related to domestic violence, the Journal’s Michael Hewlett reported. Winston-Salem police investigated three murder-suicides, and Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies investigated two. This compares to two homicides in Winston-Salem and one double homicide in the county related to domestic violence in 2010.

While the struggling economy ā€” often blamed for increases in domestic violence ā€” has improved and violent crime in general is declining, domestic violence continues unabated. Why? This is a big question for our community.

A number of agencies and organizations are trying to chip away at the problem, including Safe on Seven, a program than pulls together resources from several agencies to make it easier for victims to obtain protective orders and get other services. Family Services Inc., which is a coordinating partner for Safe on Seven, also provides numerous other services, including shelters for abuse victims and their children, a 24-hour crisis line, court assistance and even an intervention program for abusers called Time Out.

For the children of domestic violence, the Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina, which handles high-conflict custody and domestic-violence cases, is shining a light on the long-term effects that domestic violence has on children. In Forsyth County, incidents of domestic violence where children are present increased about 74 percent between 2008 and 2010, according to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. “Domestic violence is child abuse,” Suzanne Reynolds, a Wake Forest University family law professor who was on the initial board of directors for the Children’s Law Center, told the Journal.

Read the full story here.