Working toward a brighter future for children in South Carolina: Ending child abuse through advocacy and education
The University of South Carolina Upstate’s Center for Child Advocacy Studies is hosting its fourth annual conference, A Brighter Future: Ending Child Abuse through Advocacy and Education, on Friday, March 22 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the USC Upstate campus. Nearly 400 participants will attend the conference, which will be held in the University Readiness Center.
“The objectives of the conference are to impart a greater understanding of the problem of child abuse and the serious impact on child development and the community and to provide expert training to those working with children,” said Dr. Jennifer Parker, professor of psychology and program director. “I want to ensure that every citizen is capable of recognizing early warning signs of child abuse and neglect and will take appropriate action to end this pervasive problem in our community.”
According to recent statistics, one in four girls is sexually abused before the age of 14, and one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 16. Child maltreatment, however, involves more than just physical and sexual abuse; it also includes emotional abuse and failure to meet the basic needs of the child.
The state of South Carolina ranks 45th in the United States for overall child well-being, and high rates of all forms of maltreatment in Spartanburg County have far-reaching consequences. Many serious and costly youth problems, such as teen pregnancy, juvenile crime, school failure and substance abuse are preceded by child abuse and neglect. Furthermore, child abuse and neglect can disrupt early brain development, leading to increased risk of lifelong emotional and physical problems. If we direct our efforts to education and prevention of child maltreatment, then we can effectively eliminate many of these later developing problems.
According to Parker, the conference is a major initiative to increase community awareness of the problem and to provide ongoing community education. It is designed to target a broad audience of concerned citizens and professionals, including healthcare personnel, legal experts, the faith community, counselors, educators, social workers, victim service professionals, and community members.
Victor Vieth, director of the National Child Protection Training Center, will speak at the Conference.. He has trained thousands of child protection professionals from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and 17 countries on numerous topics pertaining to child abuse investigations, prosecutions and prevention. Vieth has been instrumental in implementing 22 state and international forensic interview training programs and dozens of undergraduate and graduate programs on child maltreatment. He is also the author of Unto the Third Generation, an initiative that outlines the necessary steps we must all take to eliminate child abuse in America in three generations.
The event’s other speakers include:
- Dr. Richard Gelles, the Joanne and Raymond Welsh Chair of Child Welfare and Family Violence in the School of Social Policy & Practice at the University of Pennsylvania
- Dr. Sherry Hamby, professor of Psychology at Sewanee, the University of the South
- Rusty Clevenger, Spartanburg County Coroner
- Dr. Anna Salter, Wisconsin Department of Corrections