All forms of violence interconnect, as should organizations' efforts to prevent violence.
This idea was the overarching theme for the International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma held Sept. 14-19 in San Diego. Conducted by the Alliant International University's Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT)--the annual global meeting brings together over 1,400 trauma and violence researchers, practitioners, advocates, policy-makers and survivors focused on combating violence through research, information exchange and training. APA is one of the collaborating organizations, as are APA's Divisions for Social Justice--a coalition of 10 APA divisions that support initiatives for social justice--Divs. 56 (Trauma), 43 (Family), 46 (Media) and Public Interest Directorate.
The conference featured a three-hour workshop, "Violence Prevention in the Early Years," based on APA's Adults and Children Together (ACT) Against Violence program, and a keynote panel session that included APA Public Interest staff members Julia da Silva and Diane Elmore, PhD, who presented on APA's programming and policy contributions to violence and trauma prevention.
The conference helps researchers ensure that they're not focusing on areas that aren't useful to practitioners, gives practitioners the chance to hear the latest research, and provides a forum for survivors--or "consumers"--to outline what they need, says Robert Geffner, PhD, IVAT president and Div. 56 president-elect.
Topics explored this year included family violence, youth and school violence, elder abuse, the trauma of war, sexual assault, and human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The topic of sexual exploitation was new this year because of growing awareness of the problem and the fact that the Internet and other such technologies give perpetrators easier access to victims.
In addition, an all-day pre-conference "think tank" session focused on children exposed to violence. The 25 participants--including da Silva, APA's ACT/violence-prevention director--identified gaps in research, training, policy and practice related to children exposed to violence. Participants identified some strategies and action steps for each area and talked about the need for a central repository of materials, effective practices and tools for those doing training.
"We need some place people who work in violence prevention and with children exposed to violence can go to look at best practices, materials and tools," says da Silva. "I'm looking at ways that APA can be a place to go to for this kind of information." Geffner added that he would like to see more psychologists participate in conferences.
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