Our Work


publication

The first NIH Capstone Center for Child Maltreatment: Assembling a cohort for in-depth, longitudinal assessments of the biological embedding of child maltreatment

The first NIH Capstone Center for Child Maltreatment: Assembling a cohort for in-depth, longitudinal assessments of the biological embedding of child maltreatment

publication

Child maltreatment and substance use in emerging adulthood: Internalizing and externalizing behaviors at the transition to adolescence as indirect pathways

Child maltreatment and substance use in emerging adulthood: Internalizing and externalizing behaviors at the transition to adolescence as indirect pathways

publication

Epigenetic age acceleration and risk for post-traumatic stress disorder following exposure to substantiated child maltreatment

Epigenetic age acceleration and risk for post-traumatic stress disorder following exposure to substantiated child maltreatment

publication

Integrating animal-assisted therapy into TF-CBT for abused youth with PTSD: A randomized controlled feasibility trial

Integrating animal-assisted therapy into TF-CBT for abused youth with PTSD: A randomized controlled feasibility trial

publication

Child maltreatment and adolescent externalizing behavior: Examining the indirect and cross-lagged pathways of prosocial peer activities

Child maltreatment and adolescent externalizing behavior: Examining the indirect and cross-lagged pathways of prosocial peer activities

publication

An observational study of Internet behaviors for adolescent females following sexual abuse

An observational study of Internet behaviors for adolescent females following sexual abuse

publication

Controlling contamination in child maltreatment research: Impact on effect size estimates for child behavior problems measured throughout childhood and adolescence

Controlling contamination in child maltreatment research: Impact on effect size estimates for child behavior problems measured throughout childhood and adolescence

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
grant

Creating the Next Generation of Scholars in Child Maltreatment Science (T32HD101390)

Creating the Next Generation of Scholars in Child Maltreatment Science (T32HD101390)

The purpose of this T32 – Training the Next Generation of Scholars in Child Maltreatment (CM) Science is to provide a comprehensive and multi-level training program using a transdisciplinary approach that includes preparation in the multi-faceted issues in need of research to advance the field of CM. 

Specifically, the proposed training program will provide integrated training in biology & health, developmental processes, prevention and treatment, and policy and administrative data systems. Along with a topical focus, the training will incorporate training in CM research ethics, innovative CM science methods, community engagement, and translation of policy to practice components so that trainees will be in the best possible position to effectively contribute to advancing CM science. 

Research Team

Profile photo for Chad Shenk, Ph.D.
Chad Shenk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
project

Controlling Contamination Bias in Child Maltreatment Research

Controlling Contamination Bias in Child Maltreatment Research

Contamination occurs in many different experimental designs outside the field of child maltreatment. In this project, contamination refers to the presence of child maltreatment in an already established, non-child maltreatment comparison condition. Research has shown that failure to detect and control contamination biases effect size estimates for child maltreatment outcomes and leads to variation in the significance and magnitude of those estimates within and across studies, increasing the chances of discovery and replication failures. The Detecting and Controlling Contamination Bias Project (Shenk, PI; Shores and Ram, Co-I’s) is supported by an NIH award (R03HD104739) examining contamination in prospective cohort studies of child maltreatment. 

The current project is using existing data from a large, multi-site, multi-wave prospective cohort study of confirmed child maltreatment (N=1354) to accomplish two specific aims: 1) estimate the prevalence of contamination, defined as any self-reported instance of child maltreatment by members of the established comparison condition, and 2) test five different statistical approaches for reducing bias in risk estimates for child behavior problems attributable to contamination.

 Finally, this project will conduct extensive data simulations based on these results to extend inferences across different research conditions, including variations in sample size, contamination prevalence, statistical power, and effect size magnitude. The end product of this project will be to disseminate to the larger scientific field the optimal methods for detecting and controlling contamination bias across a range of research conditions in order to minimize variation in the significance and magnitude of effect size estimates reported across prospective studies.  T32 Fellows will have the opportunity to generate, execute, and report results from statistical models aiming to establish the optimal detection and control of contamination. Statistical models where Fellows can receive training include, multi-level modeling, propensity score matching, and augmented synthetic controls. 

Research Team

Profile photo for Chad Shenk, Ph.D.
Chad Shenk, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
publication

Achieving the goals of translational science in public health intervention research: The multiphase optimization strategy (MOST)

Achieving the goals of translational science in public health intervention research: The multiphase optimization strategy (MOST)

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
publication

Provider attitudes and self-efficacy when delivering a child sexual abuse prevention module: An exploratory study

Provider attitudes and self-efficacy when delivering a child sexual abuse prevention module: An exploratory study

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
project

Innovative methods for development of effective interventions

Innovative methods for development of effective interventions

I am interested in and committed to using innovative methods to support the development, optimization, and evaluation of multicomponent behavioral interventions. Working closely with Dr. Linda Collins, I use the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST), an engineering inspired framework, to build behavioral and biobehavioral interventions that are effective, efficient, economical, and immediately scalable across a number of public health priorities including STI prevention, palliative care, and child mental health.

Research Team

Profile photo for Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH
Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH

Assistant Research Professor

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
project

Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative

Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative

The Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative (SHCI) is a cooperative project between the CMSN and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) with the goal of developing, implementing, and evaluating a comprehensive child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention strategy. SHCI consists of three evidence-based components: a community-based intervention, a school-based intervention, and a parent-focused intervention (see above). The components were rolled out in five counties over three years using a staggered implementation approach. We hypothesize that by targeting different segments of the population (i.e., adults in the community, children, and at-risk parents), the prevention of CSA is attainable. Impact of this approach is measured by administrative data (e.g., reports and substantiations of CSA), measurement of knowledge and skills learned among those who participate in the three interventions, and community level awareness via a statewide web panel survey.

Research Team

Profile photo for Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH
Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH

Assistant Research Professor

Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State
project

Smart Parents – Safe and Healthy Kids (SPSHK)

Smart Parents – Safe and Healthy Kids (SPSHK)

Parents have a responsibility to create a happy, healthy, and safe environments for their children. Many parent-education programs exist giving parents the skills to do this, but no parent-education program exists for the prevention of CSA specifically. Capitalizing on skills taught in existing parent-education programs, we seek to efficiently and economically help parents prevent their child from experiencing sexual victimization by teaching them about children’s healthy sexual development, facilitating parent-child communication regarding sex and sexual abuse, and enacting measures to ensure their children’s safety (i.e., monitoring and vetting of babysitters). SPSHK was designed as a single additional session added toward the end of an evidence-based parent education program. SPSHK aims to improve parents’ knowledge about sexual development (i.e., demonstration of age-appropriate and inappropriate behaviors), facilitate parent-child communication about sex and CSA, and empower parents to take charge of their children’s safety (i.e., vetting potential babysitters, monitoring exposure to media).

Research Team

Profile photo for Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH
Kate Guastaferro, PhD, MPH

Assistant Research Professor

project

Rapid Translation of Research into Coronavirus Policy Response

Rapid Translation of Research into Coronavirus Policy Response

This project will utilize an already-established Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) established by Drs. Taylor Scott and Crowley that consists of a team of RPC fellows in Washington, DC and major research sites across the country in collaboration with Penn State’s Office of Government and Community Relations. This project will build on the infrastructure of the RPC to respond to legislators’ needs for research related to social and behavioral policy responses to the coronavirus.

project

Impact of COVID-19 Social Distancing Response on Family Wellbeing and Child Safety

Impact of COVID-19 Social Distancing Response on Family Wellbeing and Child Safety

Drs. Connell and Strambler will conduct survey-based research to examine the relation of COVID-19 related stressors (e.g., direct exposure, impact of school and work closures, social distancing) on parents' levels of stress associated with parenting responsibilities or economic strain, as well as the effects on parents' discipline practices or care of their children that could adversely impact child safety and wellbeing. This information will provide critical insight into how best to support vulnerable children and their families during public health crises.

Research Team

Profile photo for Christian M. Connell, Ph.D.
Christian M. Connell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Associate Director: Child Maltreatment Solutions Network

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