Psychology graduate student Cassidy Wallis won UBCO’s 3 Minute Thesis when she presented RCMP-collaborated research on how and when child abuse is reported. (UBC Okanagan)

UBC Okanagan, RCMP collab for study on reporting child abuse

A fundraising gala will present a UBCO psych student’s research on how and when abuse is reported

A UBC Okanagan grad student, the RCMP and the Kelowna Child Advocacy Centre (CAC) have collaborated to try and enhance support and faster treatments for victims of child abuse.

Psychology student and PhD candidate Cassidy Wallis won UBCO’s Three Minute Thesis project earlier this year for her research which focused on more than 300 files of reported child abuse.

Wallis, along side psych professor Michael Woodworth, the Kelowna RCMP and the CAC, focused on identifying and understanding factors that contribute to the timing of when a disclosure of childhood abuse formally takes place.

“Providing support to parents of victims would facilitate children’s greater ability to report instances of abuse more quickly,” said Woodworth.

“If children report abuse when it happens, and parents are supportive, they will have greater access to psychological treatment and potentially more positive outcomes.”

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According to CAC statistics, one in three children in Canada suffer trauma-related forms of abuse. Studies show that people who have been abused are less likely to graduate high school and have a stronger likelihood of unemployment and homelessness.

Wallis’ research determined that if child care workers receive additional resources and knowledge on how to understand and support children, it could lead to earlier disclosures of abuse. The research also detailed that abuse perpetrators are more likely to be caught with earlier disclosure.

The research done by Wallis, Woodworth, Kelowna RCMP and the CAC will be presented at a fundraising gala in Kelowna on Nov. 21. Funds will go directly to the CAC, which helps community-based programs that treat and support abused children, youth and families.

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Woodworth said that Wallis’ research is a good example of on-going collaborations between the university and local resources.

“This project demonstrates how research can have incredible value outside of academia and highlights the power of collaboration between agencies,” he said.

“This project simply couldn’t have occurred without the collaboration and support of the CAC and RCMP.”

The fundraiser is hosted by Kelowna Foundation for Hope and Social Innovation. Tickets are available here.

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