While a loving and nurturing environment can help raise a compassionate child or adult, we also know that violence and abuse can lead to other violent and abusive behavior.

Child abuse and neglect, elder abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and bullying continue to fester in our community despite the many programs working to address these issues.

In 2014, more than 1,300 children were reported victims of child abuse or neglect in Hawaii, and 168 vulnerable adults were confirmed to be victims of adult abuse or neglect, according to the state Department of Human Services. One in seven women (14 percent) in Hawaii experience a completed forcible rape during their lives.

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Hundreds of Hawaii children and elders are the victims of abuse each year in Hawaii, according to data gathered by the state. Rob Blake via Vimeo

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in every three women, and one in every seven men in the United States is assaulted, abused or beaten in their lives. In 2013, nearly 16 percent of high schools students were cyber bullied, and 19 percent were bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey.

The 13th Hawaii International Summit on Preventing, Assessing & Treating Trauma Across the Lifespan being held this week at the Hawaii Convention Center will focus on how to break this vicious cycle.

The three-day seminar is open to psychologists, counselors, therapists, social workers, nurses, physicians, attorneys, advocates and other trauma and abuse practitioners who are involved in assessing, preventing or treating those situations.

National, international and local presenters will share prevention strategies and the latest research findings to help provide the tools needed to address abuse and neglect cases, as well as understand the long-term effects if they go untreated. Innovative and evidence-based intervention programs will also be presented during the three-day summit.

Over the years, our industry has found that one form of violence in a person’s life can lead to another. Child abuse can lead to bullying at a school-age level and later on as domestic abuse in adulthood.

One form of violence in a person’s life can lead to another. Child abuse can lead to bullying at a school-age level and later on as domestic abuse in adulthood.

Military veterans returning from combat situations can suffer from post-traumatic stress that can lead to abusive behaviors toward other family members if not treated. We also look at ways of preventing violence that is predatory or discriminatory in one form or another against certain vulnerable groups, including our seniors, those in the LGBTQ community and indigenous populations.

This event began in 2004, with the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute teaming up with the Kapiolani Child Protection Center to initiate a training summit that would specifically address issues of abuse and trauma informed systems of care in Hawaii. Since the 2004 collaboration, the Hawaii International Trauma Training Summit has grown tremendously, surpassing the expectations of the original planners, Dr. Steven Choy and myself.

In 2006, the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT) at Alliant International University became a co-host of this unique summit, and more co-hosts and collaborating organizations and agencies became actively involved during the next six years. Now Catholics Charities Hawaii and Child & Adult Mental Health Division are also co-hosts.

This event has since grown, with over 1,000 individuals attending and participating in last year’s summit. There were over 775 participants from Oahu and neighbor islands, while at least 148 people came from the mainland. In addition, people attended from 11 other countries or territories, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines and American Samoa. Twenty-three U.S. states were represented, with California representing the largest number.

It is time to reduce and then end interpersonal violence and abuse across the lifespan here in the islands and elsewhere. It should be recognized that violence and abuse cuts across all ethnic, racial, cultural, and gender lines and affects all of us directly or indirectly. We have waited long enough.

Policy makers, legislators, practitioners, and community leaders and advocates need to immediately begin taking action to make the ending of abuse and violence a state and national priority.

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