MTSU will host Family Violence Panel discussions open to the community

Feb 13, 2024 at 11:25 am by WGNS News

Above (L to R): Donna Gibson, Lauren Pinkston and Tommy Roberts

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Statistics for the prevalence of abuse and intimate partner violence are alarming  — 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men — and a Middle Tennessee State University professor believes the community should know how to respond when faced with those situations.

Rebecca Oldham, assistant professor in MTSU’s Human Development and Family Science Program, has organized the Family Violence Professional Panel Series featuring three panel discussions this semester where local field experts discuss different types of violence and provide resources for solutions.


“I think it’s important for every person to be knowledgeable about the signs of violence and what they should do — or not do — in those situations, as well as learn about local resources and the justice system,” said Oldham, who launched the panels four years ago for students in her Violence in the Family course.

After seeing the popularity and benefits of the discussions, Oldham expanded the panel-style events for all MTSU students and the community to attend last year.

This semester’s first panel discussion on Monday, Feb. 26, will focus on intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual assault. Child abuse is the focus of the second panel held Wednesday, Feb. 28. Elder abuse will be the topic for the third panel on Monday, March 20. 

Each panel will be held in Room 106 of the Academic Classroom Building, 1751 MTSU Blvd., at 2:20 p.m. followed by a networking reception at 3:45 p.m. with refreshments served.

“The panels that Dr. Oldham put together last year were incredible,” said MTSU Police Detective Tommy Roberts, a panel participant who investigates sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. “The audience has the opportunity to ask questions, learn about resources, what to expect if criminal charges are taken out and safety tips.”

These issues are widespread and “it’s reasonable to assume you’ll interface with at least one of these kinds of violence at some point in your life,” Oldham said.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, around 40% of women and over 30% of men in Tennessee will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes.

Centers for Disease Control and Statistics report at least 1 in 7 children have experienced abuse or neglect in the past year across the United States. And 10% of adults age 60 and older who live at home are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

College campuses are not insulated from these types of violence, either.

“One survey showed nearly half of female students and a quarter of male students have experienced at least one incident of stalking while attending college,” said Roberts, who will participate in all three of the panels. “Another staggering statistic is 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college and 90% of these sex assaults go unreported.”

Off-campus visitors can obtain a temporary permit from the Parking and Transportation Services office at 205 City View Drive or print a visitor pass at Visitor permits are $2 per day. A parking map and more information is available at

For more information on Child Development and Family Studies, visit the website at

Those interested can register to attend in person or via Zoom at

Article by: Nancy DeGennaro

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