Campus News Society & Culture

Experts offer commentary for reporting sexual abuse of minors

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia experts are available to provide commentary on sexual abuse involving children and the responsibilities for reporting such cases to the proper authorities.

The recent scandal at Pennsylvania State University involving inadequately reported alleged cases of sexual abuse of minors on campus has started a national debate on what a person’s ethical, moral and legal requirements are to report incidences of abuse to the proper authorities.

Statistics show sexual abuse of children in the U.S. occurs frequently and often goes unreported, according to the national organization, Coalition for Children ( An estimated one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before age 18. Fewer than 10 percent of those victims will tell anyone what happened to them.

UGA’s experts, their contact information and their areas of expertise are listed below. For more information, contact UGA News Service at 706/542-8083 or

Jennifer Elkins, assistant professor
School of Social Work
Office phone: 706/542-5473

Elkins is an expert on sexual abuse and, specifically, sexual abuse of males. Her current research examines the role of risk and protective mechanisms on the behavioral, psychological and academic outcomes of sexually abused boys. Her work centers on understanding, preventing and intervening with those who have experienced chronic and severe interpersonal violence and child maltreatment and gender and racial/ethnic differences in the impact and experience of sexual abuse. Elkins also has direct practice experience in counseling children and adults who have experienced domestic violence, sexual assault and child maltreatment.

Alan A. Cook, director
Prosecutorial Clinic Program
School of Law
Office phone: 706/542-5212

Cook served as the elected district attorney in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit for 10 years. He has tried more than 100 jury trials, including 19 homicide cases (of which six were capital cases) and 36 child sexual abuse cases. In September 2004, Cook joined the “Finding Words, Georgia” faculty, an interdisciplinary training program for forensic child abuse interviewers, sponsored by the Office of the Child Advocate.

“Georgia law imposes a duty upon certain individuals and organizations to promptly report any suspected abuse of a child to a child protective agency of this state, typically the Department of Family and Children’s Services,” said Cook in summarizing Georgia’s current abuse reporting law. “This ‘mandatory reporter law’ is designed to protect vulnerable children by placing such suspicions in the hands of a trained, independent investigative agency. If such suspicions are confirmed, the matter will be referred to police and prosecutors who may bring appropriate criminal charges against the offending party.

“Moreover, child protective services may take whatever action is necessary to protect the child from further harm. Anyone failing to follow the notice provisions of this law may be found guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.”

Alberta Ellett, associate professor

School of Social Work
Office phone: 706/542-5409

Alberta Ellett is a nationally recognized expert in child welfare. Her work centers on developing child welfare organizations and strengthening their holding power to retain and promote the development of competent child welfare staff. She has more than 25 years of direct practice and administration in child welfare in Georgia and Louisiana at all organizational levels. Ellett’s scholarly child welfare publications include 20 journal articles, four book chapters, five book reviews and several reports since 2000. She has presented more than 60 evaluation and research papers at national child welfare and social work conferences and professional meetings. She was co-editor of the Journal of Public Child Welfare (2004-2010) and selected editor-in-chief this year.