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Cedarville Social Work Students Present Research at State Conference

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by Public Relations Office

May 17, 2002

Cedarville, Ohio—Three Cedarville University social work/psychology teams presented their research and work recently at the Ohio Social Work Conference at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Seniors Tracy Loudermilk (Newark, Ohio) and Christine Trago (Gordonville, Pa.), both social work majors, presented on the plight of Colombian refugees. They explained the volatile condition of Colombia, which includes social cleansing, massacres, kidnappings, religious discrimination, forced military recruitment of minors, and the selling of women and children in the sex trade. With an estimated half million refugees in need of assistance, Colombia has the 12th highest number of people seeking asylum in the world. Loudermilk and Trago talked about the ways government, religious, and social services groups are trying to assist Colombians, and they offered practical tips for working in the Colombian culture with ethnic sensitivity. Senior social work majors Erin Knowles (Bourbonnais, Ill.) and Kelly Neer (West Liberty, Ohio) spoke on their experience of forming Cedarville Advocates for Refugee Empowerment (CARE). As part of CARE, they researched the U.S. refugee resettlement system and interacted with refugees and refugee assistance agencies. They then spoke to local churches to inform them of refugee needs, encourage them to consider helping refugees, and offer practical ideas for ways to assist. Sophomore social work major Melissa Wagner (Fox River Grove, Ill.) presented the paper “The Civil Commitment of Sexual Offenders,” which she had written with psychology majors Katherine Briggs (Huntingtown, Md.) and Amy Zeppenfeld (Hudson, N.Y) and prelaw/public administration major Andrea Nelson (Superior, Neb.). Their paper sought to determine whether sexual offenders should be committed. After considering the cognition of the offenders, the efficacy of treatment, the current status of civil commitment laws, and legal precedents, they determined that this issue should be decided “on a case-by-case basis, determining whether or not the offender and society itself will benefit from indefinite incarceration.” Their paper was also presented at the 21st Annual Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference at Eastern Illinois University.