Traverse City News and Events

Children's Advocacy Center, MSU Land $1.6 Million CDC Grant

Oct. 2, 2021

A new $1.6 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant will fund a research partnership between two Michigan State University Social Work Professors and to work with Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center (TBCAC).  Dr. Heather McCauley and Dr. Joanne Smith-Darden of Michigan State University's School of Social Work are Principal Investigators in the four-year project, with the aim to strengthen the evidence base for child sexual abuse prevention through TBCAC's most recent prevention initiative, the Public Will Campaign to End Child Sexual Abuse (PWC).

The CDC has outlined prevention strategies for some forms of child maltreatment and sexual violence in their technical packages, but the evidence base for CSA prevention is small. 

The Public Will Campaign grapples with the question: How do we mobilize entire communities to promote the rights and safety of children? The campaign pairs grassroots outreach methods with media tools to challenge misperceptions and leverage shared values. The short-term goals of the Public Will Campaign are to build strong communities and improve attitudes, social norms, and behaviors relative to child sexual abuse prevention. The campaign’s long-term goal is to end child sexual abuse for generations to come.

“The CDC’s selection process was highly competitive. We are thrilled to be one of only three prevention initiatives in the United States selected for rigorous scientific study. How fortunate for northern Michigan that we can partner with such an outstanding research team!” said Sue Bolde, the Public Will Campaign executive director.

McCauley and Smith-Darden will evaluate the Public Will Campaign guided by three aims: 1) building community cohesion, 2) exploring community voice, and 3) inspiring community action to prevent child sexual abuse in Michigan. Dr. Kai Cortina (University of Michigan), Dr. Alan Berkowitz (campaign consultant), and NewFoundry (a Michigan-based multimedia firm) will join the community-engaged research team.

Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center is a regional response center for investigating crimes against children in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Wexford counties, and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. 

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