When Utah Attorney General Jan Graham recently attended the funeral of LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson, she wept when she heard about President's Benson's loving family life and when the congregation sang the hymn "Love At Home."
She wept "not for President Benson, who led a wonderful life, but for the Utah children in the thousands for whom `Love At Home' is a fantasy," she said. "They are living at home with fear."Graham took her campaign against family violence to the Salt Lake Rotary Club on Tuesday, driving home the message that violence in homes is unmistakably linked to future problems of child and spouse abuse, gangs and violent crime.
"They are predictable outcomes based in the failure of the home," she said. Which is why Graham has made the prevention of family violence her No. 1 priority in office, she told the Rotarians.
"It is the No. 1 problem in this state," she added.
Graham used startling statistics to illustrate her point: 95 percent of all inmates at the Utah State Prison report they were physically or sexually abused by age 5, and one out of every four marriages will experience at least one incident of family violence. Several homicides in recent months are directly linked to violence in the home.
But the issue, she said, is not about statistics. It is about children who are the victims of violence and who, in many cases, grow up to become perpetrators of violence themselves.
Graham has organized 25 teams of about 15 volunteers each - lawmakers, city council members, prosecutors, social workers scattered around the state - who are focusing on child-protection and family-violence issues.
At the heart of the program is a graphic videotape, entitled "One Hit Leads to Another," that depicts the impacts of family violence. Graham showed the video to Rotarians.
Graham said the ultimate calling of the attorney general's office is the safety and integrity of Utahns. That calling mandates that attorneys in her office no longer sit back and wait for cases to come to court.
She promised the attorney general's office will be a "catalyst for the safety of Utah citizens."
Graham hopes to take the "One Hit Leads to Another" videotape into every workplace in Utah. And she promises her teams of volunteers are ready to deal with an anticipated flood of individuals seeking help for a problem that is correctable.
Graham also used the Rotarian luncheon to make a pitch for a constitutional amendment on November's ballot. The amendment, she said, would "guarantee rights to victims that now exist only for the accused."