By Lisa Powers, Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK – This fall, Penn State will convene some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention, and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem. “The Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention” will take place on Oct. 29-30 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on the University Park campus.
The two-day conference will include discussions with Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children. Leonard, an American boxing icon and Olympic gold medalist, will deliver a keynote address and participate in a question-and-answer session with attendees, while Smart will serve as the conference’s closing speaker. The event will also feature nationally recognized experts in the field of child sexual abuse from across academia, including:
— Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire;
— Dr. Penelope Trickett, David Lawrence Stein/Violet Goldberg Sachs Professor of Mental Health in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California; and
— Lucy Berliner, director of the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress; clinical associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
The conference is open to the general public, and tickets can be purchased here.
“Over nine percent of children were victims of sexual abuse in 2010, according to the latest national survey, and this doesn’t take into account severe under-reporting of this crime. Research shows that child sexual abuse affects children of all ages, both genders, and all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. No group of children is exempt. Nonetheless, it remains an issue that we find difficult to talk about,” said Kate Staley, a researcher at the Penn State Justice Center for Research, a co-organizer of the event. “This conference will bring together compelling speakers who are experts in child sexual abuse andwho know how to translate their knowledge for the general public. We believe this event will raise awareness of this national problem and teach all of us how to better protect our children.”
Organized by the Penn State Justice Center for Research and Penn State Outreach, the conference will address a variety of topics, including the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse, evidence-based methods of treatment and prevention, characteristics of pedophiles including their use of the internet as a gateway for child sexual abuse, and the legal issues involved in a child abuse investigation. It is designed to helpeducate the public in Pennsylvania and across the nation about this critical issue.
“Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “What happened at Penn State could — and does — happen in other communities across the country, and we hope that this conference will be a catalyst for furthering the knowledge that can lead to a safer environment for children in our nation and around the world.”
Partnering on the conference are the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, Child Study Center, Prevention Research Center, and the Penn State Center for Children and the Law. Other participating organizations include the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Registration for the conference is now open. For more information and to register, visit here.