♪ good morning, welcome to "viewpoint." i'm pat lawson muse. the problem of domestic violence can't be solved at the police station or at the courthouse alone. our guests this morning say they're tackling the problem at its roots. joining me are rosie-allen herring, president and ceo of the united way, prince george's county state's attorney, angela alsobrooks, and reverend, pastor tony lee, pastor of community of hope ame church in temple hills, maryland. welcome to "viewpoint." miss alsobrooks, last year there were 54 homicides in prince george's county. how many were domestic violence cases? >> 19 of the 54 last year were domestic violence cases. it was an amazing number.
and of the 19, seven of them were babies who were 3 and under who were killed in our families. so these numbers have concerned us, and we have to do something. >> what about the numbers so far this year? >> so far this year, we've seen seven homicides that we believe are domestic in nature, and so we have this year seen a decline of sorts. we hope it's attributable to the work we've done over last several months. we're still seeing far too many, far too many. >> pastor tony lee, you see lots as a pastor in a community where there are many, many issues. >> no, and that's why we're excited to be working in partnership the state's attorney because one of the things that brought us here as a church is the fact that because there's so many challenges that we end up seeing some things before the state's attorney's office sees them. we can get to things before they become the crime, and so we've been blessed to be working with the state's attorney's office to help training churches on how to
identify issues and then get people to the right resources, the right referrals so we don't have to wait until there's a crime to then backtrack and then say, oh, wow, we should have seen that coming. >> miss allen-herring, what do the domestic violence numbers say to you? >> i think it says we have a challenge in our community, and that the domestic violence, to me, is a byproduct of systemic challenges that have plagued families for quite a few years. general what he we've found is especially with some domestic violence issues, not all, the root causes are financial instability. n ma-- instability in many name lead to the domestic violence act. at the national united way of the capital area, our goal is to partner with others to bring solutions to the table for our region for some of those toughest challenges and financial empowerment is certainly one of them. >> miss alsobrooks, there are many issues feeding what many say is an increase in domestic violence incidents. let's talk a little more about
some of the main issues, money being one. mental health being another, guns, drugs, violence. >> absolutely. we've seen, of course, the mental health challenges are hard to deny. we see them not only here in prince george's, but you're seeing it played out across the country. i think in particular in our community, there's been so much shame associated with asking for help. we are now not only approaching women about this, but we're trying to also open up to men to say, you know, there is no shame in saying i need help. in fact, it's powerful to say that there's something troubling me that i need help. mental health is one of those issues. the financial strains we're seeing. and we're seeing also that this is a cycle that many of our children are witnessing violence in their homes early on, and they're repeating that violence as they grow older. we really have to address it earlier. >> pastor lee, talk about the toll that it takes on families. you've got husbands, wives, partners in churches. you've got children involved. they come to you and say, you
know, we're under a lot of pressure, and there's -- there's violence that you know is leading to an increased risk to members of the family. when someone comes into your office, what's the first thing you do as a pastor? >> the first thing we do is we do an assessment situation. an assessment -- sometimes it can be someone who comes in who we know they need to make sure that their safety is first. and so we're assessing to see is this someone saying they're in midst of a domestic violence situation in that moment. so then in that we are trying to give them the assistance of the state's attorney's office, law enforcement, et cetera. there are other people that you can look and see a young person, you can see a situation in which something has not happened, but you can see something brewing. you can see some of the tension, some of the challenges, and in that then we are trying to get them referrals, whether it's to mental health professionals, et cetera, to get the assistance
that can strengthen them while also being able to connect them to some of the resources we have at the church. our domestic violence ministry, those kinds of places, to be able to help them to get some of the support they need. and some people, even though they're in the midst of a bad situation, aren't ready to get out. they are at the place of readiness to be able to deal with the law enforcement referrals, et cetera. so with that, we have our team working with them on safety plans. we have our team working with them to have them in a place in which when they are at a place of being ready, they know where they can go to. they have a plan to be able to work with us. and they have a team and a phone call that can be made to help them be able to get to a place of safety in that situation. >> we're talking about domestic violence. this team's strategy for dealing with it by getting to the root causes. we'll continue our discussion after this.
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do what we do...make it progresso. welcome back. we're talking this morning about domestic violence. and in october, on the 17th of october, there's an event that will take place in prince george's county called family strong experience. it involves the state's attorney's office, churches, and the united way. ms. allen-herring, talk about this experience and why approaching the problem from a family perspective is so critical. >> sure. as we think about all the issues that lead to strong families, it's usually when there are stable families, stable homes, stable communities. and at united way, our goal is to ensure that there's a thriving community across the washington metropolitan region. in prince george's, we know that there are some challenges with regards to financial stability and financial empowerment and what happens with some of our
families who have some of those challenges. so for us, we believe that it's important that we look at financial empowerment as a way to build strong families that then will hopefully yield some other successes that we believe makes a strong community because you cannot have a strong community without strong families. >> and how do you financially empower a family? >> sure. as we think about in prince george's county alone, there are about 78,000 families that are under banked, meaning they use some financial alternative services over the course of the last 12 months. that's non-mainstream banks which means those services are probably more expensive than some traditional, if i went to the bank to cash a check, if i'm using a pawn shop if i'm using a check cashing service, sometimes fees are up to 33% on whatever it is you're looking to do. the families who need it most, who can afford it least, are the ones who are charged. we found that when you look at the families -- and many are
working families who get up and go to their jobs every day, they just don't have enough to get by. there's a stress that comes with that, a stress with whether or not my children are fed, whether or not my family has food and security, whether or not my child is able to learn, whether or not my child is in a stable home. we have affordable housing, whether rental or ownership. all of those things truly impact a family's ability to see that we're successful or thrive -- to say that we're successful or thriving. at the united way we look to have solutions, to bring solutions in partnerships with others because we do nothing alone to say what does success look like, and what can we bring to the table. one of the things we're doing, we're launching in october a financial empowerment center in partnership with prince george's county community college. it will offer those services and lead people who come to that center. there will be someone on site there all day every day to try to leave many of the citizens who may come to those financial services that will help them know that they can indeed go mainstream. they can do it without paying
extra, and that their families deserve to have the same mainstream banking services that any of the other jurisdictions have. >> the center opens in october. >> tell open in october. we will have a soft launch then. we will certainly look to be more public about it. it will be on the campus of prince george's county. >> miss alsobrooks, october is also the month that you have traditionally focused on the issue of domestic violence and brought the -- taken the issue to the churches. >> absolutely. domestic violence awareness month is in october. it's an opportunity for us to talk to the church and to talk to our larger community about all of the ways that we can avoid domestic violence in our families. so we're bringing resources to them. october 17 go ahead at the family strong -- 17th at the family strong experience we expect maryland national park and planning, the department of family, children, and youth bringing resources to bear to talk about ways, as rosie has said, that we can deal with --
we believe domestic violence is a symptom of another problem. the symptom as far as we can tell is there is a lot of help that our families need. our families are really caving beneath some of the pressures that we see every day. we are really seeking to strengthen families and, thereby address the violence we're seeing. >> pastor lee, this is the third year that you've had the partnership, the three of you. your focus is on families. the previous two years, you've had other focuses. >> yes, there's been focus on young men and focus on young women. it's been a major blessing. the reason for me that it's important to have these focuses is because you have a state's attorney who could be focusing on locking people up. but instead -- >> which some people -- some people would like to see her do. >> and the thing i like about this state's attorney, she locks up those who need to get locked up. she also realizes that we cannot win this battle by incarceration alone. that there's no way that we can win this battle because what
we're dealing with is we're dealing with the symptoms and not the larger issue at hand. so if we're empowering our families, our young people, brothers and sisters, then we can actually have a hand at making this county a much better place for people to live and a much better place for families to grow and be the fullness god called them to be. >> all right. we'll take another break and continue talking about family strong, the family strong experience, and the fight against domestic violence. stay with us.
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george's county called family strong experience. pastor tony lee, one of your jobs is to train other pastors, to teach other churches who are on the front lines in the fight against domestic violence. what do you tell them? how do you approach this in the churches and dealing with other pastors? >> they have to be made aware of some of the resources available. and then also be helped to understand even some of the signs that they can see. you can notice some things among couples, among families that can help you to understand when a family may be up along an edge as well as being able to identify even someone who is being abused and being able to then have the things in your church that are able to address that and help them get to the places of safety or shaping the safety plans, et cetera, that are necessary to be helpful. >> you teach the churches how to develop ministries that specifically address the needs of your members.
>> one, how to develop ministries or, two, those who have ministries to build capacity. working with the county, the state's attorney, then you will have people there from family services, social services, et cetera, that can talk about the church doesn't have to do it by themselves. but there are all these resources in the county that can assist pastors, assist lay people to help to be able to bring assistance to the family. they just need to know where to go, who to call and how to get plugged in. >> ms. alsobrooks, as you watch the news, it looks like violence is out of control in our communities. so often there are mental health issues at the root of them or they are repeat offenders. what is your strategy, and how have you changed your strategy for dealing with the violent cases that are domestic in nature? >> so the reality is that crime is declining. that is the interesting thing. we've had a 40% decline in homicides over the last four years or so. and what we've noticed is that as the crimes decline, we see
family cases kind of rise to the top. this is what is left. and we know that we must employ a different strategy to deal with violence in families. we've worked with the county government, the county executive's office has been phenomenal in offering resources through the department of family services, meeting the family where it is, saying these crimes can't be resolved in a courthouse or even at a police station. we have to go to these families, where the need is, and to begin to -- the only way to address it is to understand. you know, you can't address a problem that you don't understand. and we believe that our families are where we can really resolve the issues leading to violence in families. that's how we've changed the strategy. >> rather than being tougher on crime, is it being smarter on fighting crime? >> that's absolutely what it is. it is -- you know, the question is always whether you're tough. and i love-cam il camilla harri district attorney, says being
smart about crime. that's how we've attempted to deal with domestic violence. >> the biggest victims, the most impacted victims, ms. allen-herring, are often the children. they're often caught in the middle. you know, feuding parents, parents who don't understand the damage that they do. talk about the impact on families and how united way is helping the children, the schools to deal with this issue. >> sure. you know, you're right. many of our -- probably the most victims in domestic violence is not always the victim who has sort of kind of born the brunt of physical, if you will, trauma. there's a lot of mental trauma that many of our children are exposed to that doesn't necessarily manifest itself in terms of a physical bruise, but it does manifest itself in terms of mental challenges. what we've found is many of our children are showing up at school with that trauma unable to learn. that, of course, is manifested in itself. and our children not being reed
to learn, not being -- not being ready to learn, not being able to learn. it puts a strain on the school system, and many professionals who have to look beyond what they see in front of them in terms of our child to understand, well, is little johnny hungry -- they don't understand why little johnny is sleepy, why he's jumpy, why he's afraid, why he's not able to raise his hand, why he's shy. all of those things manifest themselves in little johnny not being able to learn. what we're finding especially in prince george's county since that's where we are, we have a graduation rate of 78%. the state's graduation rate in the state of maryland, about 84%. the average in is about 81%. when we looked at about 47% of households in the prince george's county schools are in communities where there's a high pro-pensited for free and -- propensity for free and reduced lunch, title one schools. we try look at schools where we feel there is obviously some need. we don't want to stereotype and assume that everyone in that community is of that particular
need because it's not a boiler plate, cookie cutter, everybody here must have the same issues. it is about being aware that the issues exist and trying to come up with something tailor made for that community around education because we recognize being ready to learn takes a village. and being raible to learn is not just on whether or not you can get phonics. it's based on all of those things that child has to go through before nay walk into the school door. sheer why we think it's -- here is why we think it's important to have the family strong experience because it's dealing with the family holistically, comprehensively, and we believe that's going to yield some success. >> we'll take a break. as weic that break, want to give you this phone number if you want to call for help -- 301-952-5370. you'll get the state's attorney's office and get more information about family strong experience and how it can help your family. we'll be right back.
welcome back. at the event that we're discussing that will take place on october 17th, the family strong experience, you're going to have some strong men there. and one of them is a former nfl hall of famer, charles haley, who's going to talk about some of the mental health issues that he struggled with. why did you choose him? >> charles haley has a wonderful story that we think people ought to hear. he's an nfl player, he's a hall of famer, he's the only player to have five rings. yet, what he will say is that he suffered for many years with a mental health condition that played itself out on the field -- anger, aggression, poor behavior. and he wishes he had gotten help sooner. when he did seek help, he found that he was able to change his life. he actually was admitted to the hall of fame in 2015, but believed that he would have been able to do so sooner. men need to hear from other men that there's no shame in asking for help.
that in fact it makes you more powerful. it makes you stronger to be able to ask for help. >> pastor lee, men do -- they do need to hear the message from other men. >> well, as men, we've been trained in this society to suck it up. whatever i heard -- we've been told not to show our pain. if a young woman or little girl gets a boo-boo, she can cry and go to daddy. if a boy, you know, his arm is chopped off, they're like, suck it up, walk it off, walk it off. it's even worse around mental pain. we're dealing with things, grappling with things that mostly are mentally -- we're told to be that man, to suck it up, to show the strong face. so this is being able to talk to brothers about mental health issues are not something you need to suck up. but you need to get the care you need in the same way that if you're dealing with any other sickness. if you have a cold or flu, you go and get what is needed to help you with that, and it's the same with mental health issues. >> ms. allen-herring?
>> we certainly believe that men are a strong, i think, affable piece of our family structure. we want to see all of our family members successful. and i think when we start with the nuclear family or sometimes women-headed household families, we need to ensure that everyone in the structure has the ability to get the help they need. >> to register for the event which is free -- >> a free event. we just -- people can call the number or go on line. you want to -- >> familystrongexperience.event bright.com. that's familystrongexperience.event bright.com. we'll be happy to register. it's free. it's going to be so much fun, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. october 17th. >> okay. first baptist church. glenarden. tracy will kin will be a moderator. thank you very much to angela alsobrooks, tony lee, rosie-allen herring. thank you very much, thank you. that's "viewpoint." i'm pat lawson muse. have a great sunday. ♪
right now on "news4 today," it's finally going to happen. can you believe it. metro's new bus hub about to open. what that means for passengers in just about an hour. plus, another major loss for a family mourning the death of a love one. the defb station they came home to after a funeral. well -- >> good morning. -- welcome in on "news4 today." i'm adam tuss. hope you're having a great day so far. and another welcome to you on this sunday morning. i'm adam tuss. >> i'm angie goff. thanks a lot that you could join us. the long awaitedra