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Although the violent crime rate in the United States appears to have declined somewhat in recent years, the country continues to have one of the highest crime rates in the world. Violent crime, also a problem in many other parts of the world, is increasingly recognized as a major source of psychological trauma. Clearly, there is a need for mental health professionals to learn more about the scope and mental health consequences of criminal victimization, and for victim advocates and other criminal justice professionals to learn more about effective mental health treatment for crime-related psychological trauma.

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in the U.S. Department of Justice commissioned a series of papers for a special April issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress, which focuses on violent crime and coincides with the 2003 National Crime Victims' Rights Week.

John W. Gillis, director of OVC, and Sarah V. Hart, director of NIJ, both of Washington, D.C., say: "With the help of mental health professionals, society is beginning to recognize that the treatment of psychological injury is as important as the binding of a wound or the setting of a broken bone. Because of the substantial number of victims who experience crime-related mental health problems, their treatment is a very challenging issue facing the mental health community."

The papers published in the April JTS were presented previously at a Symposium on the Mental Health Needs of Crime Victims held in Washington, D.C., in October 1999. After the symposium, OVC and NIJ determined that the papers would be of value to the scientific and professional community, as well as to many victim advocates and other criminal justice professionals. Consequently, OVC and NIJ commissioned publication of the papers in JTS. Associate Editor Fran Norris served as action editor for the April issue of JTS, working with the authors in updating and revising the papers for publication.

In addition to receiving approximately 2,500 copies of the special April JTS for distribution, OVC and NIJ disseminated information about the journal via electronic and print bulletins to victim advocates, policymakers and criminal justice professionals. This effort will reach far beyond ISTSS members and will introduce JTS to many new readers.

For more information about OVC and NIJ, visit www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc and www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij.

Dean G. Kilpatrick, PhD, is with the Medical University of South Carolina in the Department of Psychiatry. He also is editor of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.