Kelowna RCMP and UBCO grad collaborate on child abuse study | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna RCMP and UBCO grad collaborate on child abuse study

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November 14, 2019 - 3:45 PM

Psychology graduate student Cassidy Wallis collaborated with Kelowna RCMP and the Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre, coding more than 300 files on child abuse for her master’s thesis on how and when child abuse is reported.

Her work focused on identifying and understanding factors that contribute to the timing of when disclosure of childhood abuse formally takes place.

“Providing support to parents of victims would facilitate children’s greater ability to report instances of abuse more quickly,” Wallis said in a press release. “If children report abuse when it happens, and parents are supportive, they will have greater access to psychological treatment and potentially more positive outcomes.”

According to Child Advocacy Centre statistics, one in three children in Canada suffer trauma-related forms of abuse — and people who have been abused are less likely than others to graduate high school, more likely to experience unemployment and homelessness and more likely to perpetrate abuse throughout their lives.

“Reporting child abuse is a challenging subject,” supervising professor Michael Woodworth, said. “While it’s a difficult issue, it’s important that children can ideally report abuse right away or have resources to facilitate disclosing abuse sooner. Wallis’ research proved to be important and has all sorts of potential benefits to both our community in general as well as to invaluable services like the (Child Advocacy Centre).”

Wallis’ research determined that if frontline workers had additional knowledge on how to understand and support children, it could lead to earlier disclosures of abuse. She also concludes that perpetrators are more likely to be caught with earlier disclosure because the evidence would be more readily available.

Wallis will speak about her research project at an upcoming gala dinner in Kelowna on Nov. 21. Organized by the Kelowna Foundation for Hope and Social Innovation, the event is a fundraiser to finish building and begin operating the new Child Advocacy Centre, which will be the first of its kind in the community.

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