2003 Safety, Security and International Affairs

John Oliveira

Developed initiatives to fight child abuse and sexual assault cases in Native American communities during his three years of federal service.

When Lisa Oliveira came home form work one day with a distraught look on her face, her husband John quickly took notice. Lisa, a teacher at Parker High School on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in western Arizona, said she was disturbed by the unusual level of apathy and depression shown by many of her students.

John Oliveira, a U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs Special Agent, saw a connection between the students’ pessimism and the disturbing number of child abuse cases he was investigating in the area. He took it upon himself to develop a series of initiatives aimed at eradicating child abuse on the reservation. In just three years, these programs, collectively known as Operation Wolf Hunter, have transformed the way in which community members and law enforcement officials address issues of child abuse.

Oliveira recognized that eliminating child abuse required the help of Native American communities themselves. He worked with tribes to adopt laws against child abuse and to approve sex offender registration and notification systems that track sex offenders. That was only part of the battle. He also helped the community establish tribal child advocacy centers that investigate, prosecute and treat child abuse cases. Oliveira even developed a “3 2 1” telephone reporting system that, when it is soon up and running, will be easy enough for small children to use to report incidents of abuse.

As a result of Oliveira’s work, more victims are stepping out from behind the shadows of child abuse and working with law enforcement officers to put offenders behind bars.

Oliveira spend hours of his time, both on and off duty, helping child abuse victims heal their psychological and physical wounds. Understanding that feelings of pain and shame often plague victims, he founded the Jane Doe Foundation, a full-service non-profit organization that offers treatment and legal counseling that minimizes their exposure to an often lengthy and intimidating judicial process.

Oliveira is committed to ending child abuse. He travels around the country, without compensation, to speak to his fellow Americans about the dangers of child abuse. His dedication, persistence and guidance have sparked the creation of prevention programs in communities throughout the nation.

A man of immense integrity, Oliveira has given the children of abuse a voice and offered them a chance to heal and find hope in just three years of service to his country. Perhaps only Oliveira’s wife Lisa can truly put into words the impact of his work: “John is a shining example to our three children…they will remember a daddy who did everything he could to protect their playmates and Mommy’s students.”