UNIVERSITY PARK - John Soubik, of Coal Township, was among several child advocates who spoke at a Penn State-sponsored joint lecture designed to further the discussion on child maltreatment and eliminate the stigma that hinders its prevention.

The lecture was held Oct. 10 at the Bennett Pierce Living Center on the Penn State University Park campus.

Students, faculty, staff and members of the public attended the lecture that was entitled "Keeping Children Safe: Continuing the Dialogue."

Soubik, who was the first speaker, is a 1985 graduate of the Penn State College of Health and Human Development and serves as an adjunct professor at the University of South Dakota.

During his talk, the graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School shared stories from his time as a county child welfare investigator.

He provided detailed accounts of working with children, families and the law.

"When you're a child abuse investigator, you have so much authority," Soubik said. "You can take someone's child away from them. That's an awesome responsibility and a challenging one."

Although challenging, Soubik said it's also incredibly gratifying to guide children away from an abusive and troubled life.

He added, "I cannot comprehend how someone could intentionally harm a child. We are here to learn about awareness and become a force of action."

Although much of his lecture featured true stories about his time as an investigator, Soubik made it a point to mention the long-lasting effects abuse can have on a person, specifically after the abuse is over.

A five-person panel featuring Soubik, Sheldon Kennedy, a former National Hockey League player and major spokesman for child abuse prevention, and three child maltreatment experts took questions from the audience after the lecture that mostly revolved around society's perception of child abuse and what changes can be made to get people motivated to raise awareness.

Soubik's presentation was sponsored by the de Lissovoy Program Support Endowment for the Protection of Children in Penn State's Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Human Development and Family Studies Undergraduate Student Organization.