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Child Maltreatment Symposium 2021

Thursday and Friday, October 21-22, 2021

The Protective Services Team invites all professionals whose work involves interaction with child abuse and neglect to the 2021 annual symposium.

This is a continuing education event designed to educate physicians and professionals from all disciplines who care for children. Presented by internationally and nationally known experts in the area of child maltreatment and sponsored by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, this symposium aims to help medical and other professionals expand their knowledge about child maltreatment.

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View this year's sympoisum agenda below.

Thursday, October 21  

Friday, October 22

Speaker Topics & Bios

Andrew Sirotnak, MD

Presentation: Identifying Child Maltreatment: Redefining Our EPIC ‘BPA’

Description: Early identification of sentinel, high risk injuries in infants and very young children can prevent escalation of harm and further injury. Providers are often still struggle with utility of universal screening, unconscious bias in decision making, best practice alert fatigue, and discussing concerns with families. This session will address the inherent challenges in universal screening and case identification of child abuse in the emergency, urgent care and primary care settings and offer practical guidance to mitigate these concerns

Biography: Andrew Sirotnak, MD, FAAP is Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is the Director of the Child Abuse and Neglect Fellowship Program at Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and Children's Hospital.

A Pennsylvania native, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Scranton, with B.S. in biology and psychology. He attended Jefferson Medical College, graduating in 1989 and completed a pediatric residency at the Medical Center of Delaware and A.I.duPont Children’s Hospital, both affiliated with Jefferson, in Wilmington, DE. He was Chief Resident in Pediatrics 1992 -1993 at The Children’s Hospital, Denver and then completed a fellowship in Child Abuse Pediatrics in 1994. He was previously the Medical Director for the Denver Health Medical Center Family Crisis Center Clinic, and child abuse consultant to Denver Department of Human Services, before being recruited in 1996 to his current position.

He lectures extensively about child abuse and neglect to a wide range of audiences. His current clinical work, education and outreach efforts, administrative duties, and clinical research focus on child maltreatment. Dr. Sirotnak has been qualified as an expert witness in pediatrics, child abuse and sexual abuse in criminal and civil courts in the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Alaska, and as an expert witness in United States Federal Court, Colorado. 

He participates in Child Fatality Review Teams at the regional and state levels in Colorado. He served on the Board of Directors of Denver CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for five consecutive terms. In addition to several past community child advocacy agencies’ recognitions, he was presented the Champions in Healthcare Award, by the Denver Business Journal in 2007 for “professionals excelling through innovation, professional accomplishments and community leadership.” He has been listed annually as a “Best Doc” in 5280 magazine since 2009.

Dr. Sirotnak’ s national service work has included The American Board of Pediatrics Child Abuse Pediatrics Subboard and Credentialing Committee, and two terms as Chair, Executive Committee, American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (COCAN). He is an active member in the Ray E. Helfer Society and was appointed to its Professional Conduct and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committees

He is active in fundraising and advocacy efforts with agencies that serve abused children in Colorado, including the Children’s Hospital Colorado and Kempe Foundations. Dr. Sirotnak’s other community service and support commitments have included non-profit organizations helping domestic violence victims and to those providing children access to the visual and performing arts. An avid home gardener, he also has volunteered time to community garden projects that have engaged children in outdoor work with their families.

Sundes Kazmir, MD

Presentation: Pediatric Emergency Department Testing for STIs in Children

Biography: Dr. Sundes Kazmir is currently an attending physician in the Yale Programs for Safety, Advocacy, and Healing and assistant professor in the department of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine. She completed her fellowship training as the Speiser Family Fellow in Child Protection with the Child Abuse Division and Protective Services Team at Lurie Children’s Hospital in July 2021. She completed her medical education at the New York University School of Medicine and completed residency training in pediatrics at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT.



Julie Kenniston, MSW, LISW

Presentation: Minimizing Miscommunication with Who, What, Where, When and How Questions in Child Interviews

Description: Because language is acquired gradually for children, it is the adult interviewer’s responsibility to ask questions in a way that allows the child to tell what they know in their own words. The goal of any interview is to get accurate information. In order to do so, interviewers should apply the concepts of concrete and abstract thinking to their question choices. This presentation will explain the impact of W-H question on children based on development and how memories are encoded.

Biography: Julie Kenniston is a Program Manager for the National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College and a contract forensic interviewer for the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center. She presents for the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) and Ohio Attorney General’s Finding Words forensic interview courses. Ms. Kenniston coordinated the Forensic Training Institute for The Childhood Trust. A former APSAC board member, she co-chairs forensic interviewing committees. She has conducted over 3,000 forensic interviews. Ms. Kenniston co-authored Handbook on Questioning Children: A Linguistic Perspective, 3rd edition with Anne Graffam Walker, PhD.

LT. Joseph E. Laramie, RET

Presentation: Truths About Youth and Technology

Description: In an age where technology is in the hands of youth of all ages, the dangers of abuse can affect any child, from any background. These dangers, ranging from cyberbullying to self-victimization (sexting) to sexual exploitation (sextortion) and sexual abuse can be difficult to address. This presentation will focus on our perceptions versus reality for youth’s use of technology, and how it influences how adults speak to youth about tech usage. The presentation will conclude with tips on effective technology safety and prevention messaging.

Biography: Lt. Joe Laramie (ret) is a Program Manager with the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC) of Fox Valley Technical College working in the Missing and Exploited Children’s and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Training and Technical Assistance Programs. He retired from the Glendale, Missouri Police Department, with more than 30 years of child protection, investigation, and training experience. He created the created the Greater St. Louis ICAC Task Force and was the founding Commander of the MO ICAC. He was later an Administrator with the MO Attorney General’s Office, with responsibility for online crimes against children, human trafficking, and the computer forensic lab. He served as a subject matter expert on the MO Governor’s Cyberbullying Task Force, the MO Task Force for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and the International Association of Chiefs of Police Child Sex Trafficking Training Project. He is currently serving on the TN DCS Child Abuse Prevention Coordinating Committee, and the Board of Directors for the Davis House, a Child Advocacy Center in his home of Franklin, TN.  

Mary Clyde Pierce, MD

Presentation: The Long-term Health Impact of Child Abuse: When Stress Turns Toxic, Epigenetics, and Reasons for Hope

Description: Child abuse is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, affecting over 650,000 children annually. Unfortunately for many, the harm does not end at diagnosis. Survivors of abuse experience higher rates of serious physical and mental health problems later in life such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, anxiety, depression, PTSD, and suicide when compared to children who have not been abused. The biologic underpinnings of these latent health vulnerabilities are yet to be elucidated and important gaps exist in understanding when and how abuse confers health problems in adulthood; improved understanding of this link has both clinical and prognostic relevance for these vulnerable children.

Parade et al describe epigenetics as “a means by which the body can respond to the environment by changing levels of gene expression to allow for adaptions to environmental conditions, with positive and/or negative long-term consequences.” Epigenetic modulation of DNA does not change the DNA sequence but renders it more or less likely to be expressed”. Recent research points to epigenetics as a potential modulator of these latent deleterious health issues with specific focus on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is a biological target for studies that aim to investigate how early life adversities may be internalized and influence health consequences throughout the life-course. In cases of child abuse, the caregiver, who is most often a powerful  buffer from toxic stress, becomes the very source, which may in fact act synergistically to negatively impact the child’s health. That the stress response system would show epigenetic modulation in response to abuse is plausible as a biological mechanism for latent health problems known to be linked to toxic stress.

This talk will provide an overall framework for understanding epigenetics and the biological response to our environment including how we are treated, and discuss recent discoveries in epigenetics as it relates to child abuse. The talk will be uplifting and will pump you up!

Biography: Mary Clyde Pierce, MD, received her undergraduate degree in Zoology from the Louisiana Tech University and her medical school degree from Louisiana State University. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. Her fellowship in Pediatric Emergency Medicine was completed at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Pierce’s research interest focuses primarily on injuries in children with an emphasis on differentiating abusive from accidental trauma. Dr. Pierce collaborates with a multi-disciplinary lab with emphasis on injury biomechanics. Her interest is also in epigenetics, psychosocial risk factors, ecologic factors, and how child maltreatment confers health problems later in life.

Keith Olson

Presentation: Resiliency and Being Your Best

Description: Knowing how to build and maintain our resiliency is essential to our being the best version of ourselves and performing at our highest levels. This is particularly important during challenging times or when we are feeling 'triggered." In this session, Executive Coach Keith Olson will share concepts and practices that he uses with his primarily physician clients to help them perform at their best in a sustainable way. You will come away with practical approaches and tools to use and an understanding.

Biography: Keith is Director, Executive Coaching Services at Lurie Children’s. Primarily working with physicians, he serves as an executive coach and consultant helping clients with professional and leadership development, as well as building the resiliency needed to perform at their best. 

Keith has over 38 years’ experience and prior to joining Lurie Children’s he was a consultant at Hewitt Associates where he was a leader for talent consulting in the health care industry. 

Keith has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts Degree in Communication from Northern Illinois University.

Andrea Zaferes

Presentation:Pediatric Aquatic Abuse and Homicide Investigations

Biograpghy: Andrea has been investigating aquatic deaths and teaching water rescue/recovery with TeamLGS for over 30 years, is a medicolegal death investigator with Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s office, and helped start a nonprofit organization, RIPTIDE, to conduct research, and assist with submerged evidence/body recovery and aquatic abuse and homicide investigations. She is an innovator in the field of asphyxiation and aquatic: death, intimate partner violence, child maltreatment, abuse, homicide, and sexual assault investigation, and has taught thousands of law enforcement, death investigators, jurisprudence members, medical personnel, victim advocates, and domestic violence workers how to recognize and investigate these cases. She has spoken at more than 120 forensic and 150 rescue/dive conferences worldwide, reviewed over 3,000 aquatic cases, is one of the leading public safety diving Instructors in the U.S. and Canada with several national awards. Seen on such programming as Dateline, 48 Hours, and National Geographic, Andrea is a member of such organizations as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the International Association of County Coroners and Medical Examiners Association, an associate member of the National Association of Medical Examiners, is a  NAUI/ANDI Course Director and PADI Master Instructor, has more than 100 publications, serves as an aquatic death specialized knowledge expert in aquatic homicide cases, is a pro bono consultant to the National Center for Missing and exploited children, and assists with adult and pediatric aquatic/asphyxiation abuse and death investigations worldwide. 

Erin Paquette MD, JD

Presentation: Suspected Abuse and Parental Participating in Pediatric Decision Making

Description: Decision making for children who suffer abuse invokes multiple ethical considerations. The degree to which parents are permitted to participate in decision making after the injury has occurred is controversial. In particular, concerns arise about the potential for conflict of interest in end-of-life decision making if the parents are facing criminal charges that could be escalated if the child dies. There are additional concerns about the parents’ capacity to make decisions that are best for the child, given that the in- jury occurred. There are important reasons not to exclude parents from the decision-making process and that, with appropriate safeguards in place, parents are integral to determining what is best for the child.

Biography: Erin Talati Paquette, MD, JD, MBe, is an Assistant Professor in the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law (by courtesy). She is also an attending physician in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Chair of the Ethics Advisory Board, Associate Director of Clinical and Organizational Ethics at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, a member of the Steering Committee for the Northwestern University Institute for Public Health and Medicine Center for Bioethics and Humanities, and a founding member of the President’s Council for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Lurie Children’s, where she co-chairs health equity activities for the hospital.

As a physician, lawyer, bioethicist, Dr. Paquette is committed to interdisciplinary scholarship, integrating empirical findings into policy and practice. Her primary academic interests include research, advocacy, and policy development that reduces health disparities, addresses bias, racism, and other structural determinants of health and promotes social justice. Her current research involves evaluating disparities in research enrollment and participation, the use of medical legal partnerships to address the social determinants of health, understanding provider and public perceptions of brain death, and addressing social and structural determinants of health that contribute to critical illness. Additional interests include training to improve communication in the ICU with particular attention to conflict resolution principles, cultural humility, and implicit bias, evaluating health care access in relation to health outcomes, and ethical standards underlying decision making including informed consent and the best interest standard with particular attention to decision making for children in non-intimate families. She has had a longstanding interest in the needs of children at risk and is the co-author of “Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Futures: A Judge’s Guide.” Dr. Paquette has also published and advised on
multiple research ethics issues including use of biospecimens from children. She is an Ethics Advisor to the IL Department of Public Health Genetic and Metabolic Diseases Advisory Committee a member of the NYU Working Group on Pediatric Gene Therapy and Medical Ethics (PGTME) and an observer on the Uniform Law Commission Determination of Death Act Study Committee.

Dr. Paquette was named an inaugural Access to Justice Scholar with the American Bar Foundation 2020-2021 for her work on medical legal partnerships. She is currently a Pediatric Critical Care and Trauma Scientist Development Program Scholar and her research program is supported by a career development award (K23) at the NIH National Institute for Child Health and Human Development as well as through the National Collaborative for Education to Address the Social Determinants of Health (NCEAS), a HRSA funded initiative. She is also a member of the Society for Pediatric Research.

Dr. Paquette is a passionate educator and a member of the Feinberg Academy of Medical Educators. She is core faculty and a scholar mentor in the McGaw Bioethics Clinical Scholars Program and teaches regularly in the Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters of Science in Law and residential law programs at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. Her courses include Ethics in Action, Foundations of Bioethics, Ethics and Law in STEM Related Fields, Health Law, Bioethics and the Law and Public Health Ethics and Law.

Dr. Paquette completed her undergraduate studies at Northwestern University Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and subsequently matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her medical doctorate and masters in bioethics at the Perelman School of Medicine, and juris doctorate cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Prior to completing her clinical training, she worked with Latham & Watkins health law group where she received a pro bono challenge award for her work on international human trafficking and access to experimental therapies, the American Bar Foundation Center for Children and the Law and the Child Welfare League of America. She subsequently pursued residency training in Pediatrics at the University of Chicago and a fellowship and chief fellowship in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, where she also served as an Ethics Associate.


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Accreditation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Credit Designation Statement

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine designates this live activity for a maximum of 9.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity

Learning Objectives

  • Describe youth's online behaviors and dispel generalizations.
  • Identify effective technology safety messaging.
  • Participants will be able to describe the difference between concrete and abstract questions.
  • Participants will be able to describe the links between question types and how memories are encoded.
  • Identify the essential tools for building and maintaining resiliency.
  • To review the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections in children presenting with sexual abuse.
  • To review signs, symptoms and clinical presentations of commonly encountered infections.
  • Describe at least 3 types of nonfatal and fata aquatic child maltreatment.
  • List at least 4 possible indicators of aquatic pediatrics abuse and homicide.
  • State at least 3 medical investigative questions to ask to help identify and recognize aquatic child maltreatment.
  • Describe best practices for having difficult conversations about child abuse.
  • Identify key environmental factors that influence epigenetics

Target Audience

  • Physicians
  • Pediatricians
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Psychologists
  • Lawyers
  • Law Enforcement
  • Anyone who works closely with these fields


This year's symposium will take place virtually. 

Pricing Rates


  • 2-day: $120
  • 1-day: $60

Government/Nonprofit Employees, Lurie Children's Employees and Trainees:

  • 2-day: $100
  • 1-day: $50

Please note if you are a government/nonprofit employee, Lurie Children's employee or trainee the above pricing reflects a registration discount ($50 for one day; $100 for two days).

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More Information

Please contact childmaltreatment@luriechildrens.org with any questions.