Maureen Kenny, Education Professor
Trained as a clinical psychologist, I spent the early part of my career working with abused children and their families. I was part of research projects that examined the effects maltreatment and abuse had on children and also worked to help these children heal from these traumatic experiences.
Over time, I became involved in prevention efforts, first in the area of abuse reporting. My efforts were spent educating mandated reporters of child abuse to identify, recognize and report abusive situations early so that intervention could be sought for the child, and healing could begin.
However, feeling as though I wanted to intervene earlier, before abuse even took place, I realized a great deal more could be done to protect and empower children by educating them and their parents.
With external funding from the Childrens' Trust of Miami Dade County, I founded KLAS: Kids Learning About Safety, to provide safety education to preschoolers and their parents throughout Miami-Dade County.
Parents are often misinformed about abuse and don't feel comfortable discussing such topics with their children; child sexual abuse is something most parents think will never happen to their children.
Unfortunately, statistics tells us a different story. It is enormously rewarding to see how children learn rules about safety in a short period of time, while their parents are educated about ways to keep them safe.
The skills I use in the classroom at FIU teaching counseling students to work with diverse populations, translates directly to the kind of wok I am involved with in the community.
As a professor of future mental health counselors and school counselors, I am able to share the experiences I have working with families so as to help my students understand the importance of educating families so as to prevent abuse.