First course in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies minor offered this fall

Penn State’s new, undergraduate minor in Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies (CMAS) is fully developed and the inaugural course will debut this fall. The course and minor look to deliver critical training to a wide variety of professions from education to medicine. 

The course (HDFS 297A), Introduction to Child Maltreatment and Advocacy Studies, will give students a comprehensive look at child maltreatment with a focus on its prevalence, causes and consequences. Additionally, the course will examine the legal processes and reporting of child abuse and neglect cases; forensic and medical assessments; the Child Protective Services system; and psychological treatment methods. Students will also have the ability to study past child maltreatment cases, the laws that govern them and their outcomes. 

The course is an indicator of what the CMAS minor will entail, and it will examine issues and provide information related to a number of professional fields, including areas ranging from education, law enforcement and criminology to medicine and social sciences. Specialists in these professions will likely come into contact with children on a regular basis, and this course, as well as the CMAS minor, intend to prepare students for a multitude of post-graduate opportunities. CMAS also sheds light on a pervasive societal problem that requires more advanced knowledge, practice, education and outreach to prevent. 

“This course will be of great value to any student who plans to work with children in a variety of career paths,” said course instructor Chad Shenk, assistant professor of human development and family studies. “It was developed to provide an expansive overview of the issue of child maltreatment for all students, promote the recognition and reporting of child maltreatment, while giving the essential background needed to those students who wish to pursue the advanced courses required for successful completion of the CMAS minor.” 

Shenk’s background focuses on the long-term effects of child maltreatment, the causal pathways of adverse health outcomes and the development and testing of behavioral interventions for sufferers of abuse and maltreatment. 

The creation of an undergraduate minor in CMAS was approved recently by the Penn State Board of Trustees. The minor is part of the University’s efforts to address the widespread and serious problem of child maltreatment, bringing together experts in the field from across a broad spectrum. 

This coming semester, the course will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 4:15 p.m. 

HDFS 297A is currently open in Penn State's schedule of courses and students are still being accepted. For more information, contact Sandee Kyler. 

By Noelle Rosellini