Studying Victims of Abuse

By Kirsten J. Barnes

Center for Community-Based Partnerships

As an experienced social worker and founding director of the Morgan County Child Advocacy Center, Teresa Hicks Young knows first hand how important it is to have experienced people when dealing with victims of abuse.

However, the idea to conduct research on family and victim advocates in Child Advocacy Centers came about during a conversation with an employee of the National Children's Advocacy Center in Huntsville, Ala.

"She identified the need to learn more about family victim advocates who work in children's advocacy centers," said Young, whose study focused on who the workers were and what they do. "It was this simple question that formed the initial idea for the study."

By partnering with the national organization and four regional Children's Advocacy Centers, the Hartselle, Ala., native developed a survey to determine which job-related functions had the most impact on victims.

"Our analysis revealed that family victim advocates rated critical and non-critical job duties of equal importance," said Young, who is pursuing a doctoral degree in social work. "This is an important issue for children and families in this situation and indicates the need for training to address the importance of critical job duties being given priority over non-critical job duties."