Penn State to hold National Conference on Child Sexual Abuse

August 15, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- This fall, Penn State will convene some of the nation’s top experts in child sexual abuse and child trauma research, prevention, and treatment for a public forum on this nationwide problem. "The Child Sexual Abuse Conference: Traumatic Impact, Prevention and Intervention" will take place on Oct. 29-30 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on the University Park campus.

The two-day conference will include discussions with Sugar Ray Leonard and Elizabeth Smart, both of whom suffered sexual abuse as children. Leonard, an American boxing icon and Olympic gold medalist, will deliver a keynote address and participate in a question-and-answer session with attendees, while Smart will serve as the conference's closing speaker. The event will also feature nationally recognized experts in the field of child sexual abuse from across academia, including:

-- Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire;
-- Dr. Penelope Trickett, David Lawrence Stein/Violet Goldberg Sachs Professor of Mental Health in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern California; and
-- Lucy Berliner, director of the Harborview Center for Sexual Assault and Traumatic Stress; clinical associate professor at the University of Washington School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The conference is open to the general public, and tickets can be purchased at

"Over nine percent of children were victims of sexual abuse in 2010, according to the latest national survey, and this doesn’t take into account severe under-reporting of this crime. Research shows that child sexual abuse affects children of all ages, both genders, and all ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. No group of children is exempt. Nonetheless, it remains an issue that we find difficult to talk about,” said Kate Staley, a researcher at the Penn State Justice Center for Research, a co-organizer of the event. “This conference will bring together compelling speakers who are experts in child sexual abuse and who know how to translate their knowledge for the general public. We believe this event will raise awareness of this national problem and teach all of us how to better protect our children.”

Organized by the Penn State Justice Center for Research and Penn State Outreach, the conference will address a variety of topics, including the traumatic impact of child sexual abuse, evidence-based methods of treatment and prevention, characteristics of pedophiles including their use of the internet as a gateway for child sexual abuse, and the legal issues involved in a child abuse investigation. It is designed to help educate the public in Pennsylvania and across the nation about this critical issue.

“Penn State has made a commitment to becoming a leader in the research, prevention and treatment of child abuse, and this conference is an important part of that,” said Penn State President Rodney Erickson. “What happened at Penn State could -- and does -- happen in other communities across the country, and we hope that this conference will be a catalyst for furthering the knowledge that can lead to a safer environment for children in our nation and around the world.”

Partnering on the conference are the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of ChildrenChild Study CenterPrevention Research Center, and the Penn State Center for Children and the Law. Other participating organizations include the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Registration for the conference is now open. For more information and to register, visit

Penn State’s Justice Center for Research, a partnership with the College of the Liberal Arts and University Outreach, isco-located at 327 Pond Building on the University Park campus and The 329 Building at Innovation Park. For more information about the center, visit

Penn State Conferences plans and manages 60 to 80 programs each year, which represent the diversity and strength of Penn State’s academic colleges and provide opportunities for individuals to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 24, 2019