Narratives on Child Abuse and Neglect in Oklahoma

Two years ago, I had the privilege of attending the Interdisciplinary Training Program for Child Abuse and Neglect.  This two-semester program was sponsored and taught by the faculty at the University of Oklahoma Healthy Sciences Center for Child Abuse and Neglect within their Child Study Center.

Every Tuesday night, masters and doctoral students, faculty and community professionals, attorneys, people who had been abused as children, etc. would convene for a three hour class covering some detailed aspect over the topic of Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN).  Some evenings were fairly tough.  We watched videos; the footage had been taken from hidden cameras to catch adults abusing children and sometimes even infants. We listened to doctors as they showed us x-rays of spiral fractures and described why Shaken Baby Syndrome is so lethal.  We traveled to a prison to speak with child abuse offenders, went to children’s therapeutic, residential homes where abused children were going to school until they were returned to their families or aged out of the OKDHS system.  We sat through a Mock Trial for which we had prepared almost a semester, each of us playing our roles as a case to terminate the custodial rights of parents were reviewed by a real judge in a real courtroom.  And, we all completed a project.

My project was to examine Oklahoma’s contemporary narratives on CAN, to see if they have shifted over time, how people learn about CAN, and what it would take in order to continue reducing the rates in Oklahoma.  I traveled to the Ponca Tribe in Ponca City, interviewed a family from the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, a couple in southwest Oklahoma City, an individual in Yukon, a couple in Minco and an individual in northwest Oklahoma City.  The following video is a half-hour documentary, describing in some detail, what Oklahomans are saying about the CAN issue.

I invite you to watch it when you have time.  And, I invite you to share it as well.  It will be posted on our Oklahoma State University College of Human Sciences website this week, and it may run on a few local cable channels.  It is my hope that the data I gathered from this project, and the subsequent video you’ll see, are helpful in educating our public.  Please feel free to contact me through the RDC “Contact” page if you have follow up questions after watching. Final note – this video has content that might be disturbing to some. It is not for all audiences; my guess is that the content is generally a PG rating, with a possible PG-13 topic area in one scene.

Thank you, [kelly]

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