SCC Introduces Child Advocacy Studies Certificate

Violence and sex abuse are things that children should never have to endure, yet more and more often we hear horrific stories of the world’s youth in these appalling situations. Out of all preventative measures, education can be the most effective at turning the tides on child abuse and SCC has recently joined in spreading that knowledge.

The Child Advocacy Studies certificate is a three course (15 credit) program that is wrapping up its first cycle at SCC. Starting fall quarter, CAST 102, 202, and 285 will be listed under the CAST program instead of sociology special topics.

The certificate consists of the following three classes:
CAST 102/SOC 102: Child Maltreatment & Advocacy
CAST 202/SOC 202: Professional & System Responses
CAST 285/GWS 285: Gender, Violence & Social Change

“All of the feedback I have received has been very favorable and the classes had very robust enrollment given that students really only found out about it through word of mouth from faculty,”
said Linda Forst, one of the CAST advisors who played a major role in setting up the program.

Educating awareness is one of the major goals of the program. Rachel David, another advisor for the program, was able to explain how this knowledge has worked to reduce child abuse in recent years.

David said that the NCANDS (National Estimate of Substantiated Sexual Abuse) has shown a 62 percent drop in the rates of substantiated sexual abuse from 1992-2010. She also brought up policies such as the Mandated Reporter Law (implemented in Washington during the 1980s), which was created to add responsibility to those who witness child abuse and to help ensure that authorities are contacted regardless of the situation.

“This is a joint effort by the Federal Government and colleges and universities around the country to offer programs in CAST with the ultimate goal of eliminating child abuse through education and breaking the cycle of violence in our communities,” said Forst.

“Currently there are 26 colleges and universities, two seminaries, three law schools and one medical school with CAST programs either as a certificate, minor, major or graduate program,” Forst said. “SCC is one of three community colleges in the nation offering the program.”

Forst has been working hard to get this program implemented at SCC. At an annual conference she attended in 2012, the National Child Protection Center, in conjunction with other organizations, presented the implementation of the CAST program in the midwest and on the East Coast.

“Their ultimate goal is to eliminate child abuse and neglect,” Forst said about the presenters. “They feel the more educated people are on recognizing it and consequently reporting it, we will interrupt the cycle of violence. Unfortunately, many children raised in abusive homes or that are victims of abuse grow up to become abusers or to again be abused in relationships. I was very impressed with the passion of the presenters.”

The certificate is geared toward teaching how to recognize the signs and appropriately respond to suspected child abuse. This is an immensely valuable skill for anyone who may be working with kids in their future careers. According to David, students interested in nursing, social work, education, or law enforcement would benefit greatly from having these skills to put on a potential resume.

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