OUR OPINION: Victims’ rights need full-time exposure

By NEMS Daily Journal

Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s declaration of Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Tupelo shines a brighter light on people who often suffer the most and the longest from crimes committed against them or people they love.
Started in 1981, National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) challenges everyone to extend its vision of crime victims’ rights and services to reach every victim of crime.
The importance of assisting victims of crime has grown to include a special division within the U.S. Department of Justice as well as local organizations providing support and counseling for victims of all ages.
The National Center for Victims of Crime partners with the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice, to produce NCVRW resource guides, a wide array of user-friendly tools, information, and concrete, practical ideas on how to better involve and motivate communities in extending the vision of crime victims’ rights and services to reach every victim.
All people who have been victimized can contact a dedicated toll-free number – Disaster Distress Helpline, provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, at 1–800–985–5990 or texting ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746. The Helpline operates 24 hours-a-day, 7 days a week. The service is free and confidential, and offers crisis support service to U.S. residents who experience “psychological distress as a result of natural or man-made disasters, incidents of mass violence, or any other disasters.”
The Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) is responsible for ensuring that victims of crimes investigated by the FBI like the Boston Marathon bombings receive timely help. The OVA manages day-to-day operational aspects of the Victim Assistance Program (VAP) in the 56 FBI field offices across the country as well as the FBI’s international offices. In addition, the OVA is responsible for providing training and information that helps to equip FBI agents and other FBI personnel to work effectively with victims. The internet contact address is http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/when.
However, urgent situations call for victims to call 9-1-1, the Justice Department advises.
Victims’ Rights week this year falls coincidentally only a week after the terrorist attack in Boston, a somber reminder that no one knows when services for victims will be needed – or where.