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Conference To Showcase Approaches For Boosting Child Protection

By: Min Xian

Penn State Network on Child Protection and Well-Being’s fourth annual conference Sept. 30-Oct. 1 will shed light on the long-term effects of early-life stress, maltreatment, and trauma. The two-day conference will bring together 15 top researchers in fields of psychology and neurosciences from Harvard, NYU, and other institutions around the world.

Dr. Andrea Danese from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College focuses his research on the biological mechanisms through which early life stress affects child development and later health. Hannah Schreier, an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health here at Penn State, addresses the long-term psychological consequences of exposure to adverse experiences in her research.

Dr. Martin Teicher, an Associate Professor at Harvard, Dr. George Bonanno of Columbia University, and many other top researchers will also be presenting at the conference.

“The importance of this year’s conference is that it will look at the biological aspects of child maltreatment, with a highlighted discussion of resilience and reversibility,” said Sandee Kyler, the Assistant Director of the Network.

Resilience of child maltreatment has profound effects to human bodies that would carry on throughout one’s life and even impact next generation. Kyler believes that this makes exploring reversibility more crucial than ever.

The Network is developed to advance Penn State’s academic mission of teaching, research, and engagement in the area of child maltreatment, as resolutely stated on its website. Since it was launched in Fall 2012, the conferences have established a concrete frontier of understanding child maltreatment through advanced researches.

The two-day event is designed to interpret the separate yet integrated “role of the endocrine system/immunology, brain development and genomics” in order to find new ways to translate the research into “applicable strategies for prevention, mitigating injurious outcomes, and reversibility,” according to its website.

That being said, the conference will not only look into various developments on researches related to child maltreatment, but also combine those studies, in the hope of providing potential solutions to fight the negative effects of it.

The conference will consist of four sessions, each followed by an integrative “translation” component, where speakers will find connections in all the studies presented; and it will end at the culmination of a panel discussion, enabling interaction among speakers and participants.

Taylor Clayton, a senior journalism student, has been blogging about this year’s conference, where she documents her finding about Penn State’s effort to advance research in child protection, as well as sharing the remarkable message coming from the Network.

“This research being done is incredible,” said Clayton. “More people need to learn about it.”

Other than updating posts on her blog, she has also voiced her findings on social media, “trying to get the message out there in our community.”

Researchers of this year’s conference come from around the globe, and Clayton says her next step is to spread the word to those highly influential institutions where the researchers locate.

“Simply spreading awareness of this issue is doing good,” Clayton said.

Clayton believes her work would leave a positive impact on our university. “If you would read a couple more paragraphs, look through the surface, and actually understand what the Network is about, the participation is easily meaningful.”

Registration for student is free and available until Sept 24. Registration is also available on Sept 30 from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. at the conference. For more information, please see Network’s website.

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