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  February 18, 2002

Family Studies Program to Highlight
Prevention of Social Problems
By Allison Thompson

According to the old adage, preventing a problem is often easier than curing it. Through a series of seminars and a new interdisciplinar y, graduate-level course, the School of Family Studies is emphasizing the theory and practice of prevention.

"The prevention of human and societal problems is a challenging issue in many different disciplines, and it is of national significance because of the serious problems we face, such as AIDS, terrorism, child abuse, violence, poverty and racism," says James O'Neil, a professor of family studies. "We want to stimulate dialogue about these problems and get more people involved in preventing them."

During three symposia, the school's faculty and invited speakers will address the importance of prevention, ways to prevent abuse and violence, and using forgiveness to heal emotional and psychological wounds.

The first presentation, to be held on Feb. 27, will touch on the value of prevention, preventing child abuse and neglect, and the impact of certain legislation on families. The symposium, "Prevention in Human Development Science and Service," will take place from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the Konover Auditorium at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center.

The Family Violence Initiative, a group of Family Studies faculty and Women's Center staff concerned with understanding, preventing, and treating the effects of violence, will lead the next symposium on April 3. Titled "Working with Emotional/Psychological Violence," the event will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Konover Auditorium, and will give participants a chance to assess whether they have been a victim of emotional or psychological abuse and provide counsel to those who believe they may have been victimized.

The third symposium, "Using Forgiveness to Heal Emotional/Psychological Wounds," features two workshops. The first, "Forgiveness Concepts and Healing Emotional Wounds," is on April 10 and the second, "Breaking through to Forgiveness: Choosing to Take Action," is on April 17. Both will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Room 103 of the Family Studies Building.

The graduate course being offered is called Prevention, Intervention and Policy. During the course, O'Neil and eight other professors, all of whom have published work on prevention, will discuss prevention initiatives they have implemented. The goal of the class is to train prevention specialists and get students more involved in preventive activities.

"Primary prevention is a hopeful, forward-looking perspective and is consistent with the School's emphasis on development and on social policy," says Charles Super, dean. "For individuals and for the community, and for taxpayers who so often pay dearly to try and repair damaged humans, prevention needs to be part of our future."

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