More than 350 attend forum on child abuse, neglect

2013-04-26T19:15:00Z 2013-04-28T00:52:06Z More than 350 attend forum on child abuse, neglectMarisa Kwiatkowski, (219) 662-5333

GARY | William Kellibrew IV was 10 years old the day he says he stared down a gun and begged for his life.

It was 1984, and the Washington, D.C., native said he already had watched his mother's ex-boyfriend kill her and Kellibrew's 12-year-old brother. He feared he was next.

The ex-boyfriend allowed Kellibrew to leave, but the boy spent many of the next years grappling with the trauma of that experience.

"I didn't want to live in this world," Kellibrew said.

He spoke Friday about how that experience shaped his life during the 23rd annual Forum on Child Abuse and Neglect at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. More than 350 people attended the event.

The forum focused on trauma-informed care in child welfare, which means having a basic understanding of how trauma affects the life of a person seeking services. There were 11 breakout sessions ranging in topics from gang violence to child support in Lake County.

Marshelia Harris, visiting lecturer in the School of Social Work at Indiana University Northwest and member of the planning committee, said she hopes people left the forum understanding that abuse and neglect "doesn't come in a particular package."

Former Lake Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura, now director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, also spoke Friday at the forum.

She outlined DCS initiatives, including preparing children in the system for independent living and a pilot program bringing services to children with mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.

Bonaventura said her inspiration for taking the state job was her son, who died in November at the age of 28.

Bonaventura said her son told her, "You gotta help more kids than you're helping now."

Prevent Child Abuse Lake County presented Bonaventura an appreciation award for her years as Juvenile Court judge. The group also gave Sharon Terry a Dr. Richard W. Hug Cherish the Children Award for her more than 30 years at the Hobart Family YMCA.

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