By Tyler Alben
Violence and sex abuse are things that children should never have to endure, yet horrific stories of youth in appalling situations seem to be more and more common. Out of all preventative measures, education can be the most effective at turning the tides on child abuse and Shoreline Community College recently joined in that effort.
The Child Advocacy Studies Training (CAST) certificate is a three-course, 15-credit program that recently wrapped up its first cycle. The program is completely online to allow those currently employed in areas such as in nursing, social work, education or law enforcement to fit the classes into already busy schedules.
The Child Advocacy Studies Training certificate consists of the following three classes:
– CAST 102/SOC 102: Child Maltreatment & Advocacy
– CAST 202/SOC 202: Professional & System Responses
– CAST 285/GWS 285: Gender, Violence & Social Change
The CAST program classes are dual listed under Child Advocacy Studies as CAST 102, 202, and 285 and also under Sociology as SOC 202 (winter quarter) and Gender and Women’s Studies (spring quarter) as GWS 285.
All three classes are taught online. Go to Shoreline’s eLearning Services for more information about online classes.
“All of the feedback I have received has been very favorable and the classes had very robust enrollment given that students really only found out about it through word of mouth from faculty,”
said Shoreline faculty member Linda Forst, one of the CAST advisors who played a major role in setting up the program.
Education and raising awareness are major goals of the program at Shoreline and across the country. Faculty member Rachel David, another advisor for the program, said the approach appears to be working.
David said that the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System has shown a 62 percent drop in the rates of substantiated sexual abuse from 1992-2010. Prior to that period, David said policies such as the Mandated Reporter Law, implemented in Washington during the 1980s, added responsibility to those who witness child abuse and to help ensure that authorities are contacted regardless of the situation.
“This is a joint effort by the federal government and colleges and universities around the country to offer programs in CAST with the ultimate goal of eliminating child abuse through education and breaking the cycle of violence in our communities,” Forst said.
“Currently, there are 26 colleges and universities, two seminaries, three law schools and one medical school with CAST programs either as a certificate, minor, major or graduate program,” Forst said. “Shoreline is one of three community colleges in the nation offering the program.”
Forst has been working hard to get this program implemented at Shoreline. It began with attending a conference in 2012 where the National Child Protection Center, in conjunction with other organizations, presented how CAST programs had been implemented in the Midwest and on the East Coast.
“The ultimate goal is to eliminate child abuse and neglect,” Forst said. “They feel the more educated people are on recognizing it and consequently reporting it, we will interrupt the cycle of violence. Unfortunately, many children who are raised in abusive homes or are victims of abuse grow up to become abusers or to again be abused in relationships. I was very impressed with the passion of the presenters.”
Shoreline’s certificate is geared toward teaching how to recognize the signs and appropriately respond to suspected child abuse. This is an immensely valuable skill for anyone who may be working with kids in their future careers. According to David, students interested in nursing, social work, education, or law enforcement would benefit greatly from having these skills to put on a potential resume. Those already working in those fields can bring new skills to their jobs, too, she said.
(Tyler Alben contributed this article to the Ebbtide, a student-run newspaper at Shoreline Community College.)