UMDNJ Faculty and Colleagues Pen Storybook
to Help Children Recover from Physical Abuse
STRATFORD — Physical abuse isnt a topic that most people expect to find in a childs storybook, but mental health professionals at the CARES (Child Abuse Research Education and Service) Institute at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine have found a way to turn stories of abuse into a tale of healing for children and their caregivers. Narrated by a flop-eared stuffed bunny, Helping Families Heal introduces young readers to 6-year-old Suzy, 10-year-old Miguel, and 9-year-old Latisha, who talk about their journey and recovery after experiencing physical abuse.
The book provides a fun and creative way for children, their parents and therapists to start the conversation around issues, such as child physical abuse, that can be painful and difficult to talk about, said Dr. Melissa Runyon, a psychologist and first author of the childrens book who serves as Treatment Services Director at the CARES Institute. The books most important message is that child physical abuse can happen to anyone. The children in the stories come from different family configurations and backgrounds, but they all have been hurt by someone who loves them. Through their commitment and therapy, the family members learn how to communicate openly with one another so that they can solve their problems without hurting each other.
Dr. Runyon, who is also an associate professor at the medical school, and her co-authors, Dr. Alissa Glickman, CARES psychologist, and Ms. Beth Cooper, CARES research coordinator, have began to distribute the childrens book (1,000 each in English and Spanish) - free of charge - to mental health professionals around the country who are helping children and their families deal with issues of child physical abuse. Most of the mental health professionals who will receive the book are working through agencies associated with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), whose mission is to provide evidence-based services to every traumatized child across the United States. The cost of producing the book was paid through a CARES Institute grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
To request an interview with the authors of Helping Families Heal please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
The CARES Institute provides an array of medical and mental health services developed to meet the diagnostic and therapeutic needs of children through an individualized plan for the specific circumstances of each child and family. The CARES Institute is a nationally recognized model of excellence in healing children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect and violence.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.