Sheldon Kennedy talk and panel discussion to focus on child sexual abuse and social change

Oct 09, 2013, 16:19 ET from Respect Group Inc.

CALGARY, Oct. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Sheldon Kennedy, former professional hockey player and international child advocate, will be speaking about his personal story of abuse and recovery and how he became a leader of social reform in Canada.  Kennedy's talk titled, "Tragedy to Triumph:  Overcoming Child Sexual Abuse and Leading Social Change" will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday October 10th in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 100 Henderson Building, on the Penn State University Park campus.  Students, faculty, and community members are all invited to attend both Kennedy's talk and the panel discussion and Q&A that follows.

Sheldon Kennedy skated for three teams in his eight-year NHL career but is best known for his courageous decision to charge his Major Junior Hockey league coach with sexual assault for the abuse he suffered over a five year period while a teenager under his care. Sheldon has become an inspiration to millions of abuse survivors around the world and a committed, outspoken child advocate. His life story was made into an award winning movie, he has appeared on numerous TV shows including Oprah and ABC's Nightline, and he was named Canada's newsmaker of the year in 1997. In 1998, Sheldon in-line skated across Canada to raise awareness of child abuse and donated all $1.2M proceeds from the skate to the Canadian Red Cross - Respect ED program. In 2006, Sheldon wrote "Why I Didn't Say Anything" a riveting account of the many psychological impacts of abuse. He has received several awards for his tireless work including the Canadian Red Cross Caring Award, Scotiabank Humanitarian Award, and 2012 Calgary Citizen of the year. Sheldon has influenced changes in Canadian law, and in policies in Canada's youth-serving sports organizations targeting the prevention of child sexual abuse, and has taken his message to the International Olympic Committee and the US Senate. Sheldon is Honorary Chair of the National Advisory Committee for 1in6 Canada, an advocacy group for male survivors of child sexual abuse, and he serves on the Board of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, the first-of-its-kind in Canada. Sheldon continues to influence social change through Respect Group, the company he co-founded that provides empowering on-line education for the prevention of abuse, bullying and harassment in youth serving organizations, schools and the workplace.

Four panelists will join Kennedy after his talk to engage with the audience in an extended question-and-answer discussion session.  Each panelist brings a different expertise in child maltreatment to the discussion but have in common their strong advocacy for children.  Jennie Noll, Ph.D, an internationally recognized researcher and professor of HDFS, is one of the new faculty hires in child maltreatment by Penn State University. Dr. Noll has been part of a research team involved in a 30-year longitudinal study of female survivors of incest, and is now serving as the Director of Research and Education for the Penn State Network on Child Protection and Well-Being. Teresa Smith, Ph.D., LSW, has spent her entire career working with children in distress as a caseworker at Children and Youth Services, Director of a Children's Advocacy Center, and currently as the Outreach and Training Coordinator of the Northeast Regional Children's Advocacy Center. Pam McCloskey, M.Ed, is a licensed child psychologist who has worked with abused children for over 20 years, and is a nationally certified child forensic interviewer. John Soubik is a Penn State HDFS alumnus and a former child welfare investigator who currently works for the state government as the PennDOT workforce and succession planner.

Sheldon Kennedy's talk, the panel discussion, and the reception to follow are co-sponsored by Penn State's Justice Center for Research and the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being.

SOURCE Respect Group Inc.