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Penn State Sets Date for Invitation-Only Child Sex Abuse Awareness Conference

by on June 30, 2013 10:30 AM

Penn State is making some changes to its annual conference on child maltreatment. The university's inaugural conference, which was held last October, came in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

This year's event is set for September 25. The daylong conference will be run like a workshop, and attendees will be invited. 

Last year's conference lasted for two days and was open to the public.

The conference is called "Protecting Pennsylvania's Children by Building Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams/Child Advocacy Centers." It will feature keynote speaker Tina Huizar, executive director of the National Children's Alliance, and has a "very focused topic," says Jonathan F. McVerry, Communications Manager at Penn State's Network on Child Protection and Well-Being.

"One of the Network's goals is to translate research into real-world use. By inviting organizations and child advocacy centers from around the state, we can do that," McVerry says. "Practitioners state-wide can learn from each other and access resources for their communities."

The Network was created in 2012 as a response to a report provided by the Presidential Task Force on Child Maltreatment.

Potential attendees include Pennsylvania's district attorneys, children and youth service administrators and law enforcement officials, as well as Penn State faculty, who will gather in the Penn Stater Conference Center and Hotel to discuss various topics related to recognizing and combating child sex abuse. 

According to Penn State, The National Children's Alliance is the accrediting body 750 children's advocacy centers across the U.S. and through the coordination of investigation and intervention services by bringing together law enforcement and child welfare professionals as a multidisciplinary investigative team, creates a child-focused approach to child abuse cases.

Pennsylvania currently has 22 Child Advocacy Centers across the state, and they operate by using the standards set by the National Children's Alliance.

Penn State says the conference also will include experts from in-state in child abuse investigations and prosecutions in panel discussions on topics such as model investigation standards and multi-disciplinary investigative team development. Grants for multidisciplinary investigative team development and support will be announced.

Last October, keynote speakers for the two-day conference included Elizabeth Smart, a former kidnapping victim, and Sugar Ray Leonard, a retired boxing world champion.

Laura Nichols is a news reporter and @LC_Nichols on Twitter.
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