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York University and CCVF

Toronto – York to research impact of violent crime on victims and families

York University will launch a unique study into the impact of extreme violence on victims and their families, thanks to a generous new gift.

The Canadian Crime Victim Foundation (CCVF) has pledged $25,000 for the research initiative which will help address a critical gap in crime research, according to the lead researchers. “Victims of extreme violence, and their family members, have long been ignored in the halls of science, as well as in the legal system,” said York psychology Professor Jennifer Connolly, immediate past director of the LaMarsh Centre for Research on Violence & Conflict Resolution.

CCVF co-founders Joe and Lozanne Wamback (BSc Spec. Hons. ’77) presented a cheque to the LaMarsh Centre during the foundation’s annual gala on May 28. The couple formed the foundation after a 1999 near-fatal assault on their 15-year-old son Jonathan, who is currently studying English and French at York.

Right: From left, Jennifer Connolly and Harvey Skinner

“York University was chosen as the best research environment to invest in a more compassionate and understanding future for all Canadians,” said Joe. “This exciting partnership with one of Canada’s most esteemed academic institutions will set new standards into understanding the needs of survivors of violence and families of homicide victims.”

About one in five crimes reported to the police are of a violent nature. In 2008, there was an average of 932 incidents of violent crime for every 100,000 Canadians, according to the annual Vital Signs report from the Community Foundations of Canada. Through the LaMarsh Centre, the research program will provide clinicians with new insights into effective counselling and will guide important policies on victims’ rights.

Harvey Skinner, dean of York’s Faculty of Health, affirmed the importance of the gift which will help cement York as a leader in research on victims of extreme violence. “Therapeutic treatment for crime victims and their families is largely uncharted territory,” Skinner said. “This kind gift allows the Faculty of Health, the LaMarsh Centre and the York University Psychology Clinic to research and then apply that research to serve victims of crimes and their loved ones.”

Left: The donation from the CCVF was presented at their eighth annual gala on May 28. From left, Lozanne Wamback, co-founder and victim support chair of the CCVF; Harvey Skinner, dean of York’s Faculty of Health; Stephen Fleming and Jennifer Connolly, both professors in York’s Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health; and Joe Wamback, co-founder and board chair of the CCVF.

Connolly will lead the research component that aims to further enhance an understanding of the devastating effects of extreme violence on victims and their families, as well as the coping strategies that lead to recovery. “This generous gift from the Canadian Crime Victim Foundation will break new ground in focusing attention on the profound and far-reaching effects of violent crimes on youth and their families,” she said.

York psychology Professor Stephen Fleming will lead the clinical component through the York University Psychology Clinic, providing enhanced clinical training in trauma intervention for graduate psychology students. A member of the CCVF Professional Advisory Committee, Fleming noted the need for increased training to help victims cope with the immediate and long-term effects of their experience with violence. Many are re-traumatized long after their initial ordeal while navigating the legal system.

“Through the York University Psychology Clinic and the generous donation from Joe and Lozanne Wamback, York graduates will be uniquely qualified and trained to provide critical assessment and treatment to victims of extreme violence,” said Fleming.

A workshop in intervention for traumatized children and adults is in preparation for the fall.

For more information about giving to York, contact Nicole Arnold, chief development officer for the Faculty of Health in the York University Foundation, at 416-650-8076 or visit the York University Foundation Web site.