More than 800 professionals learn and connect at national conference on child sexual abuse

More than 800 social workers, police officers, medical personnel, and other professionals from around the U.S. updated their professional skills recently at Continuing Studies’ 27th Midwest Conference on Child Sexual Abuse. They learned about the latest prevention, assessment, and treatment strategies from nationally recognized leaders at the conference, held Oct. 24-27 at the Marriott Madison West in Middleton.

Safe care of our children should be the top public health concern of the U.S., according to keynote speaker Bessel van der Kolk, MD, professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, medical director of the Trauma Center at JRI in Boston, and a leading researcher in trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He noted that children who grow up near, witness, or are victims of violence or abuse develop more health issues than other children, including mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, and a high incidence of suicide. Our bodies can reflect the stress caused by the abuse, van der Kolk added, and the survivor frequently continues the violence throughout their own life.

Recent cuts in the arts and physical education classes in education budgets also are a poor strategy, said van der Kolk. “Children who have lived with trauma need physical movement, whether through sports teams, dance, or the martial arts, and they need to express themselves through music and the visual arts.”

James Campbell, PhD, professor in Continuing Studies, directed the conference, which included such sessions as:

  • Who is the female offender?
  • Behind the mask of a child rapist
  • Child porn: from sex to Barbie-dolls
  • Healing the incest wound: adult survivors in therapy
  • “I thought he was my friend. . .”—the Internet, a molester’s paradise
  • Why expressive therapies have potential to assist trauma resolution

Conference participants received professional continuing education credits or licensure credit.