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IU Northwest to host 22nd annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect April 27

Keynote address focused on historical roots of corporal punishment in black families


Media Contact

Emily Banas
Office of Marketing and Communications

Erika Rose
Office of Marketing and Communications

On Friday, April 27, in observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Indiana University Northwest School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) will host the 22nd Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect, beginning at 9 a.m. in the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium in the Savannah Center. The event is also sponsored by the IU Northwest Division of Social Work, the School of Nursing, and the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence.

The theme for this year’s free event is “Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: Planning and Doing.” Continuing-education credits (CEU) will be available to foster parents and licensed social workers who participate.

Check-in begins at 8:15 a.m. followed by a welcome and introduction by IU Northwest Chancellor William J. Lowe and Elizabeth Guzman-Arredondo of St. Monica Home.

At 9:10 a.m., Keynote Speaker Stacey Patton, Ph.D., will speak on the historical roots of corporal punishment in black families. Patton is a noted author, scholar, child advocate, and facilitative trainer who conducts workshops on child welfare issues throughout the country. 

Born in Montclair, N.J., Patton spent the first five years of her childhood in foster care before being adopted by abusive parents. At age 12, she ran away from home and spent the next few years being shuttled between foster homes and youth shelters before winning a full scholarship to the prestigious Lawrenceville Prep School near Princeton, N.J.

In 2007, she published a book about her experiences, That Mean Old Yesterday. The book includes a discussion of the historical roots and impact of physical discipline of children in African-American families. In April 2011, she launched, an online portal designed to teach alternatives to physical discipline of children. 

During the forum’s 11:30 a.m. lunch break, Patton will sign copies of her book.

At 10:25 a.m., a number of guest speakers will discuss the State and Local Developments in Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, including: 

  • Andrea Preston, Director of Prevention Services of the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS)       
  • Sharon Pierce, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana (PCAIN)
  • Indiana State Senator Earline Rogers (discussing State Senate Bill 267, commonly referred to as Erin’s Law)
  • John Buncich, Lake County Sheriff
  • Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, Lake County Superior Court, Juvenile Division

DCS Region I Manager Jane Bisbee will lead the session and report on the implementation of Lake County’s Child Abuse Prevention Plan which was unveiled at the 2011 forum.

Beginning at 12:15 p.m., five breakout sessions are available on a variety of timely and important topics, including:

Child Welfare Update: Presented jointly by Jane Bisbee; Sharon Pierce, executive director, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana; Joy Heminger, Prevent Child Abuse Lake County, and a representative of the central office of the Indiana Department of Child Services. This session will inform participants of state and local developments in improving child welfare initiatives.

Reactive Attachment Disorder: Presented by Angela Comsa, LCSW, MBA, clinical director, Regional Mental Health. Many of the children in the foster care system have been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). This session will cover the basics of RAD along with some practical interventions for foster parents and practitioners who work with them.

Managing Stress to Minimize Compassion Fatigue: Presented by Sandy Appleby, LMHC, Geminus/Regional Mental Health. Compassion fatigue is the emotional residue of working with persons who are suffering. The workshop will provide an overview of ways to identify compassion fatigue and strategies for addressing it that can be personalized for work and home.

The Grief Journey of the Child Placed in Foster Care: Presented by Stacey Patton, Ph.D. This workshop is designed to help participants understand the stages of grief foster children experience and the ways they may act during those stages. Participants learn to identify and document those behaviors and respond appropriately.

Child Welfare Advocacy: The Case of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention: Presented by a representative of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. This session features a review and discussion of approaches and techniques for child welfare advocacy with emphasis on the methods and messages appropriate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. 

Concluding the forum at 1:30 p.m. will be the presentation of the annual Dr. Richard Hug Cherish the Children Award. Mr. Byron J. Hubbard of Crown Point, former principal at Virgil I. Bailey Elementary School in Lake Station, will receive the award.

The award presentation will be followed by a closing address by Mary Armstrong Smith, a self-described standup comic and speaker, whose skills with humor are useful in her job with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. Her presentation will help attendees apply the joyful and creative power of humor to all aspects of their lives.

Because seating is limited and lunch is provided, early registration is encouraged. Registrants should send an e-mail to that contains their name, organization, address, phone, e-mail address and the breakout session they wish to attend, and if you are in need of CEUs or a certificate. Walk-ins are welcome; however those who register after April 20 are not guaranteed seating or lunch.

Live streaming video will be available at:

24-hours following the forum, a recorded video of the forum will be available at:

Parking is available in the main IU Northwest parking lot on 33rd Avenue just west of Broadway and just north of the Savannah Center. Visitors are asked to avoid parking in spots marked as reserved.

Co-sponsors of the forum include: Prevent Child Abuse Lake County; Mental Health America; Lake Area United Way; The Villages; Parents As Teachers of Lake County; Northwest Indiana Area Health Education Center; Purdue University Calumet School of Nursing; Sigma Theta Tau; Geminus Community Partners; Indiana Department of Child Services; St. Monica Home; and the Northwest Indiana Chapter: American Society for Public Administration.

The Child Abuse Forum is part of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs Public Affairs Weeks.

For more information about the 22nd Annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect, contact The Villages at (219) 762-3465.