Penn State alumna, child abuse expert returns to discuss child abuse prevention

By Sarah Mearhoff

For the Centre Daily Times

Blue and white pinwheels — Prevent Child Abuse America’s symbol for child abuse prevention — spun daintily in the HUB-Robeson Center’s Heritage Hall on Thursday afternoon while Penn State alumnus Janet Rosenzweig spoke of her decadeslong efforts to prevent child maltreatment.

Rosenzweig’s speech came on the heels of Penn State’s announcement that it will establish the Center for Healthy Children. It’s made possible by a $7.7 million grant from the National Institute of Health and a $3.4 million matching contribution from the university. The center will continue and build upon research on child well-being that Penn State begaun in 2012.

Having earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in individual and family studies and health education, respectively, Rosenzweig said she first realized the importance of sex education after her undergraduate IFS adviser insisted she take a human sexuality course because “sex is a part of family life.”

“Against my will, I took BIO 341 or 441, and that set my career,” Rosenzweig said. “Because, at the same time that Penn State was starting to provide an academic focus on human sexuality, the pharmaceutical industry just started mass-producing the oral contraceptives.”

It was from this class that Rosenzweig was recruited to help jump-start a peer contraceptive education program at University Health Services. She soon decided to add “certified sex educator” to her resume.

Today, Rosenzweig spearheads research to prevent child maltreatment as the executive director of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

During her decades studying child maltreatment, Rosenzweig has identified some key steps to take in order to prevent child abuse.

First, Rosenzweig said child abuse prevention stems from building strong relationships and communities in a child’s life.

“There’s too many people who think that counting black and blue marks and giving out an 800 number is child abuse prevention,” Rosenzweig said. “That’s not.”

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