UC Davis child abuse conference focuses on emerging trends, including self-mutilation, violent young males

March 29, 2001

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- More than 500 leading medical, forensic, mental-health and social-work professionals from California and the nation will convene at the Doubletree Hotel in Sacramento April 10-12 to present research findings and increase their knowledge and practice skills in treating child abuse and neglect.

"Thanks to the increase in awareness and resources to help families and victims of child abuse and neglect, there has been a slight decline in the number of reported cases over the past five years," says Marilyn Peterson, director of the Child and Adolescent Resource and Evaluation (CAARE) Center at UC Davis Health System. "In 1999, California county welfare departments responded to 622,000 reports of child abuse and neglect, compared with 689,005 in 1995. The majority of abuse and neglect cases, about 60 percent, continue to involve children 10 years of age or younger.

"However, there are a few new twists. For instance, five years ago, we didn't think of sexual predators as lurking on the Internet, nor did we really recognize the explosion of methampetamine production and distribution and how it would affect children living in the homes that were turned into meth labs. In addition, we are seeing a rise in pockets of abuse, such as aggression in young males and self-mutilation. This comprehensive conference enables a variety of professionals in the abuse and neglect field to discuss and hopefully communicate prevention strategies to reverse these alarming new trends," Peterson said.

The conference will feature a nationally recognized keynote speaker each of the three days.

John Briere, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, will deliver the opening-day keynote address on "Child Abuse as a Major Mental Health Factor in American Society." Briere also will be conducting a workshop on understanding and preventing self-mutilation, including the use of tattooing as one of its insidious forms.

Former president of the American Medical Association and physician Robert E. McAfee will be the keynote speaker April 11, exploring the impact of family violence as a public-health problem. McAfee recently was honored with the first public-health award in 2000 by the Family Violence Defense Fund and with the first public-service award by the Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence Board.

Nationally recognized author and expert on children and violence, James Garbarino, will be the final keynote speaker at the conference April 12. The Cornell University professor and co-director of the Family Life Development Center will address the origins of violent youth and how their aggression can be reduced. His talk will be based on his most recent books, including "Lost Boys: Understanding Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them," and "Raising Children in a Socially Toxic Environment."

Garbarino "is one of but a few scholars of national standing who have undertaken some novel, but important research," said George Nicholson, an appellate court judge based in Sacramento. "This talk is particularly timely to consider in light of the most recent of the continuing series of public school shootings."

Because Garbarino's work bears directly on the criminal justice system, Nicholson arranged a breakfast meeting with Garbarino the morning of his talk.

Attending the private function will be other trial and appellate judges, leaders of the state, local and minority bar associations, and Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, chair of the state Assembly Judiciary Committee, among others.

The conference also will feature more than 40 workshops and lectures by child-protection professionals from throughout the country. Workshops being conducted include:Other lectures and workshops include:The conference is jointly sponsored by the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center, CAARE Center, the Office of Continuing Medical Education, UC Davis Extension Program, California Department of Health Services, California Department of Criminal Justice Planning, the International Association of Forensic Nurses, Child and Family Institute, California District Attorney's Association as well as a variety of state government offices that are involved in children's health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect.
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For more information about the conference, contact Carol Howle, conference coordinator for the CAARE Center at (916) 734-6152. Reporters wanting to attend this conference should contact Martha Alcott, Medical Sciences Public Affairs, (916) 734-9027 or e-mail, martha.alcott@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

Additional information relating to this conference is available on the Web at http://news.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/child_abuse_conf.html Copies of all news releases from UC Davis Health System are available on the Web at http://news.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

University of California - Davis Health System

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