By Jennifer Kaminski, PhD
Given the losses and challenges that 2016 has brought, and the battles predicted in 2017, it's admittedly difficult to write about anything positive right now. We've lost some key experts and fighters for children's well-being over the past couple of years. Policies that have supported this important work may take new forms or be repealed altogether in the coming years. Social and political will for efforts to help disadvantaged families may be harder to come by. But while we must acknowledge the realities and cope with our emotional reactions to those realities, we must also remember that there's never been a more critical time to act on behalf of children and families potentially or already affected by child abuse and neglect.
As individuals, each of us helps to chip away at the larger problem, which collectively makes an impact. In 2017, I challenge each of us to make new connections, partnerships and collaborations through the Section on Child Maltreatment. Let's share more to the listserv – about your work, relevant articles, job opportunities, and ways to work together. Let's reach out to each other to submit conference symposia rather than individual papers or posters. Let's compile twice as many responses when we get requests from APA or others for our expertise. To borrow a phrase, let's be stronger together.
If it's too intimidating to reach out through the listserv to invite collaboration or co-submissions, I will gladly put out a message without your identifying information and relay the responses back to you. If it feels to self-aggrandizing to post your newest articles, send to me and I will send to the listserv (and to our newsletter editor). If you worry that you don't have time for new collaborations, think how much more you might be able to accomplish if there were more of us working on the issue you are addressing.
I am thankful to the new set of elected and appointed officers who are already stepping up to this challenge. Brand-new to the section board is Jennie Noll, who will begin a two-year term as president. Stephanie Block, who has valiantly served us for three years as secretary and was our 2006 Dissertation Award winner, will begin a two-year term as president elect. Angelique Day, who was previously honored with our 2011 Dissertation Award and 2015 Early Career Psychologist Award, will begin a two-year term as member-at-large. Anna Washington (formerly Westin) will transition from her activities as Early Career Psychologist (ECP) co-chair, to begin a three-year term as secretary. Barbara Oudekerk, also a former ECP co-chair, will take the helm as editor of our newsletter, which Yvonne Humenay Roberts worked so diligently to re-brand over the past three years. The role of membership chair, so capably handled by Jenelle Shanley Chatham since 2014, will transfer to Kelly McWilliams (Div. 37's 2016 program chair).
The children and families we serve need us fighting for them, now more than ever. And we are up to the challenge. As always, I welcome suggestions for how we as an organization of compassionate professionals can do more or do better.