USC Upstate Holds 7th Annual Child Advocacy Conference “A Brighter Future: Ending Child Abuse Through Advocacy and Education”

March 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Nearly 20 first responders will receive a full day of training on Wednesday, March 23 aimed to provide them with a better understanding of best practices for initially responding to cases involving child abuse allegations. The University of South Carolina Upstate Child Protection Training Center will host this course, offered only to law enforcement, EMTs, paramedics, and firefighters, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at its Mock House, located at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics.

“The training will provide an understanding of how and why the first response can be crucial to the entire multidisciplinary team and a successful child abuse investigation,” said Dr. Jennifer Parker, director at the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center.

First responders will participate in a hands-on, interactive training that simulates a child abuse investigation case involving different components of crimes perpetrated against children.

S.C. Law Enforcement Division agent Nicki Cantrell, a member of SLED’s Special Victims Unit/Child Fatalities Unit, will instruct the participants in crime scene training and in interviews, gathering information, and documentation. Dr. Nancy Henderson, a child abuse pediatrician with the Greenville Health System, will provide medical evidence training.

According to Parker, successful completion of this training session will enable the first responders to evaluate the scene thoroughly with an open mind; determine roles of each first responder; document observations adequately; conduct successful interviews with all parties on the scene; and understand medical evidence and what it can indicate.

The first responder training is a pre-conference offering to the University’s 7th Annual Child Advocacy Conference, A Brighter Future: Ending Child Abuse Through Advocacy and Education, which will be held on Friday, March 25 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More than 450 participants are expected to attend the conference, which will be held in the University Readiness Center.

“We bring national experts to Spartanburg to examine pressing issues related to child abuse and neglect,” said Parker. “Our attendees are front-line child protection professionals and community leaders. With a diverse program and audience, we can obtain a deeper understanding of the complexities of child maltreatment and improve our response and prevention efforts.”

According to recent statistics, one in four girls is sexually abused and one in six boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. 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.

Dr. Bruce D. Perry, founder and senior fellow of The ChildTrauma Academy in
Houston will open the conference with a presentation on Impact of Early Childhood Trauma on the Developing Brain. Perry is the author, with Maia Szalavitz, of “The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog,” a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children and “Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered.” His most recent multimedia book, “BRIEF: Reflections on Childhood, Trauma and Society” was released in 2013. For the past 30 years, Perry has been an active teacher, clinician and researcher in children’s mental health and the neurosciences holding a variety of academic positions.

Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and director of health services at Covenant House Pennsylvania, will give a presentation on The Importance of Resilience in Overcoming Adversity.

The event’s other expert speakers include:

  • Dr. Nancy Henderson, Child Abuse Pediatrician, Greenville Hospital System
  • Marlanda Dekine, LMSW, Founder and Director, Speaking Down Barriers
  • Machelle Madsen Thompson, Ph.D., LCSW, Social Services Coordinator, Love At Work Missions

For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Parker at (864) 503-5671 or For registration and more information, visit or call 864-503-5188.


About the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center

The USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center (CPTC) at the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics provides exceptional training for child protection workers both locally and nationally. The CPTC is unique to the southeast region and one of only four centers of its kind nationally.

The CPTC offers a rare opportunity for multi-disciplinary team members to hone their skills by following real world scenarios from intake to prosecution. Comprised of both a mock house and a mock court room, the CPTC presents its participants with hands on opportunities to improve their skills in detection, reporting and responding. Trainings provided by similar centers, have proven to improve competence and confidence levels of participants, which leads to improved prevention, investigations and prosecutions, as well as lower employee turnover.

Through its partnerships nationally with the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center and locally with the Child Advocacy Studies Program at USC Upstate, the CPTC will ensure it is always offering the most current trainings to benefit children, those who work in the child protection field and ultimately the community as a whole.