But as we talk about being safe in the streets, we cannot neglect another place where people all too often are made to feel afraid -- in their own homes. Domestic violence puts women and children at risk, destroys the sanctity of the home, and tears families apart. Across the nation, around six million women are victims of domestic violence every year, and more women are injured as a result of domestic violence than by any other cause. Without a doubt, this is one of the most difficult and serious problems we face as a city.
For the past three and a half years, the City has been committed to bringing the problem of domestic violence into the light. This means raising awareness, mobilizing prevention efforts, and improving treatment. It also means encouraging involvement from all sectors of the community. This week, I announced the start of two new programs that we hope will offer further hope to victims of domestic violence.
On Wednesday, I joined with AmeriCares and Beth Israel Hospital as part of a new program to provide plastic surgery to women who have suffered from domestic violence abuse. By treating the visible reminders of their abuse, the hospital hopes to help women deal with their emotional scars as well. This program, one of the first of its kind in the country, is a sensible, sensitive partnership between the public and private sectors.
Then on Thursday, I invited the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York and Victim Services to City Hall to initiate a three-year project designed to identify and treat victims of domestic violence and their families. In the Partnership to Prevent Domestic Violence, HIP and Victim Services will provide patients with an integrated network of medical, psychological, and emotional support. The Partnership recognizes the complexity of most domestic violence situations and understands the need for swift, prudent, and sensitive action.
These programs are examples of what the private sector can do to help women all over the city. I have always said that city government cannot combat domestic violence alone. They complement what has been, over the past three and a half years, a historic citywide effort to defeat the epidemic of domestic violence.
Beginning in April of 1994, the New York City Police Department entered a new era in approaching domestic violence crimes. Since then we have approached spousal abuse and child abuse with newfound focus by improving the training of our officers, modernizing tracking strategies, and emphasizing proactive, problem-solving tactics that both enforce the law and deter family violence. We're also treating domestic violence perpetrators appropriately -- as criminals. Arrests for domestic-violence related crimes increased 71 percent between 1993 and 1996.
In addition, city government -- which, as the largest employer in the city, purchases health care for 1.1 million employees and their dependents -- is requiring all health care insurance companies with whom it does business to address domestic violence. We are also requiring that Medicaid plans under contract with the City come up with their own domestic violence programs. Under these two mandates, over the next few years more than two million New Yorkers will be part of health plans that address domestic violence.
Also, the Administration for Children's Services, under the able leadership of Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta, has tried to spot children in distress and remove them from potentially abusive homes as quickly as possible. With newer technology, improved training, higher levels of accountability, and more effective cooperation between city agencies -- including the Board of Education -- ACS is better equipped than ever to face these challenges. We simply have lived through too many tragedies to see any more of our children be seriously harmed at the hands of their parents or guardians.
When taken together with private initiatives such as the two I announced this week, New York City has the largest and most comprehensive domestic violence program in the nation. We have made significant progress in changing the city's perception of the crime, in providing aid to women and children in need, and in cracking down on perpetrators. I know that together, if we stay focused on this task and remain committed to finding creative and sensitive solutions, we will significantly reduce domestic violence, save women's lives, and make the future brighter for all our children.