Symposium at UMass Amherst to Focus on Families and Violence on April 23

AMHERST, Mass. - Scholars, family practitioners, and policy makers will confront the issue of violence and its impact on the quality of family life at a day-long symposium at the University of Massachusetts, Wed., April 23.

Keynote speaker for the event is James Garbarino, internationally known for his research and advocacy work on issues related to children, families, and violence. Garbarino is director of the Family Life Development Center and professor of human development and family studies at Cornell University. His talk is titled "Children and Families in a Socially Toxic Environment."

The symposium is sponsored by the UMass Center for the Family and UMass Extension’s 4-H Youth and Family Development Program. Supporting partners are the UMass Everywoman’s Center, Western Massachusetts Legal Services, and the Smith College School for Social Work.

"This symposium underscores our goals for The Center for the Family," says Maureen Perry-Jenkins, center director and professor in the department of consumer studies. "By bringing together researchers, outreach professionals, and policy makers we hope to go beyond discussions of violence and families and move toward comprehensive solutions."

Perry-Jenkins explains that the goals of the symposium are to pull together an interdisciplinary team of experts to discuss the issues, to outline the steps necessary for Massachusetts and the nation to address violence in society, and to underscore the need for an interdisciplinary approach on many fronts - in the courts, schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities - to end the violence.

"This will be a compelling symposium that should demonstrate the Center’s commitment to addressing the most critical issues that families are facing," she says.

Featured afternoon speaker for the symposium is Sut Jhally, UMass professor of communication, whose presentation is "Scared to Death: Media and the Representation of Violence." Jhally is the author of four books on media and commercial culture, but is perhaps best known for his video "Dreamworlds: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video," a critique of how women are depicted in commercial images.

The symposium will also include four separate panel discussions. Topics and participants are as follows:

* Violence in Neighborhoods and Communities: Kathleen Alexander, community education and staff development training, Northampton District Attorney’s Office; Rebekah Crampton, associate justice, Springfield Juvenile Court; Chris Womack, Boston Street Worker Program, Boston mayor’s office.

* Violence Against Children: James Garbarino, Cornell University; Joyce Strom, executive director, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; Debra Sicilia, Department of Social Services, Springfield.

* Partner Violence: Mary Christine King, UMass School of Nursing; Laurie Salame, AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Project, Western Massachusetts Legal Services; Patricia Mota-Guedes, UMass Everywoman’s Center; Steven Botkin, Men’s Resource Center, Amherst.

* Violence in Schools: Ervin Staub, UMass professor of psychology; state Rep. Ellen Story, D-Amherst; Douglas Tierney, principal, Deerfield Elementary School; Helen Caulton, director of health and human services, Springfield.

All events during the symposium will take place in the Campus Center and are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is necessary. For additional information or to register by the April 4th deadline, contact Brian Runck, 413/545-5020.

NOTE: Reporters interested in the symposium schedule or in arranging interviews with James Garbarino or other symposium participants, please contact the News Office, 413/545-0444.