Working Together to Prevent Violence Against Children
Notes from CHOP’s sixth annual Global Health Conference
On Nov. 1, more than 200 physicians, nurses, social workers and others attended CHOP’s sixth annual Global Health Conference, “Violence Against Children: Global Perspectives on Resilience, Response and Health Outcomes.” The conference was a banner event in GlobalPhilly 2013 — a six-week exposition designed to bring international attention to the City of Philadelphia.
Speakers at CHOP’s Global Health Conference included:
- Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations, who discussed the emotional, physical and psychological repercussions that children surrounded by armed conflict face. Zerrougui emphasized the importance of protecting hospitals and their personnel in war zones as the first step in reducing the damaging effects of armed conflict on children. • Kerri Cohn, M.D., M.P.H., an attending physician in CHOP’s Division of Emergency Medicine, and Lisa Hilmi, R.N., M.P.H., senior global health ambassador at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who shared their experiences working on the front lines abroad.
- Theresa S. Betancourt, ScD, MA, associate professor of Child Health and Human Rights in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health, who talked about special interventions she developed for waraffected youth.
- J. Christopher Kovats-Bernat, PhD, associate professor of Anthropology at Muhlenberg College, who discussed the impact of gun violence and youth gangs on child development and community security in Cité Soleil, Haiti. • Michael Wessells, Ph.D., professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who spoke about the challenges facing young girls and women who were formerly recruited as child soldiers in war zones.
- Thomas F. Burke, MD, FACEP, chief of the Division of Global Health and Human Rights in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, who spoke about the prevalence of modern-day slavery and child trafficking in the United States and abroad, including the direct public health implications of trafficking on children.
- Fernando Chang-Muy, the Thomas O’Boyle Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, who explained how healthcare providers can help identify and assist individuals who may have been trafficked into the United States.
- Eduardo Garcia Rolland, child protection technical adviser for the International Rescue Committee, who spoke about his efforts to educate parents with the hope of increasing positive behaviors and improving outcomes for children. The day concluded with a powerful presentation by Achier Mou, M.P.H., chair of the Board of Directors of the Sudan Development Foundation, who spoke about his experience as a child soldier in South Sudan and described how he started a new life in the United States. His message was crucial for anyone concerned with the health and safety of children: Violence against children cuts across all social, political and economic settings, and we must work together to give children everywhere the opportunity to grow, thrive and live healthy, fulfilling lives.