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Preventing, Mitigating Effects of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence to be Discussed During Annual Forensic Sciences Seminar

Feb 23, 2018

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Child abuse prevention, intervention and investigation in the Valley will be addressed during the 14th Annual Rio Grande Valley Seminar in Forensic Sciences, which will be held Wednesday, November 8 through Friday, November 10 at the Isla Grand Beach Resort, located at 500 Padre Blvd. on South Padre Island.

The seminar, which is presented by Valley Baptist Health System, will provide current information to those involved in child abuse investigations, including law enforcement officers, Child Protective Services workers, social workers, attorneys, nurses, pediatricians, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, coroners, psychologists, EMS personnel, school and day care personnel, clergy, and other professionals.  The special three-day conference will address ways to prevent child abuse, techniques used in child death investigations, and other current issues involving child abuse and domestic violence.

Dr. Stanley Fisch, Pediatrician and Medical Director of the Child to Adult Abuse Response Team (CAART) program at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, said the forensics seminar is an important learning opportunity for those professionals who work with the realities of domestic violence, child abuse, and neglect.

Speakers for the conference will include Sonja Eddleman, BSN, RN, Child Abuse Resource & Evaluation Team Clinical Coordinator for Driscoll Children’s Hospital and CAART Team Clinical Director for Valley Baptist Health System; and Jamie Ferrell, RN, Forensic Nurse Educator and Consultant, and Clinical Manager of Forensic Nursing Services for Memorial Hermann Health System-Houston.

The opening day of the conference will feature several presentations on the basics of child abuse. Dr. Ryan Brown, University of Oklahoma School of Medicine, will discuss the physical signs of child abuse. Dr. Ruby Charak, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, will discuss psychological aspects of child abuse, and Dr. Marsha Griffin, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, will talk about the unique risks faced by immigrant and refugee children.

“The seminar will provide up to date information, standards of practice, and evidence based research,” Eddleman said. “This is imperative for all professionals that touch the lives of children and have the opportunity to speak, act, and take a stand to protect the children. The children are waiting on us to help them.”

 On the second day of the conference, speakers will discuss human trafficking, domestic violence, and near death episodes in infants. The discussions will include a presentation by Laura Tillman, author of “The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts.” Her book and presentation will be about the Rubio/Camacho infanticides in Brownsville in 2003 and their effects on the community.

On the final day of the conference, Molly Voyles and Roy Rios from the Texas Council on Family Violence will discuss the timely topic of sexual assault and harassment. Friday’s sessions will conclude with a Faith Summit.

The annual conference is sponsored by Valley Baptist Health System, Blue Sunday, and the Child Abuse Education Program.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit or call Stephanie Hamby at (956) 389-1721. The seminar is presented by Valley Baptist Health System, Blue Sunday, and the Child Abuse Education Program of South Texas.

Sonja Eddleman 

Sonja Eddleman, BSN, RN, Child Abuse Resource & Evaluation Team Clinical Coordinator for Driscoll Children’s Hospital and CAART Team Clinical Director for Valley Baptist Health System, demonstrates use of the colposcope, which is used to help gather evidence in suspected cases of sexual assault. Eddleman will be one of the speakers at the Rio Grande Valley Seminar in Forensic Sciences Nov. 8 - 10 at South Padre Island.

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