Engaged Scholars: Camille Quinn
Engaged Scholars is a monthly series highlighting Ohio State faculty who have made an impact in our communities through their community-engaged research and teaching.
Camille R. Quinn, PhD, AM, LCSW, LISW-S
College of Social Work
As a mixed methodologist, I use community-based participatory research methods to engage adolescent girls as well as community and government partners who serve them to identify strengths-based approaches to promote their health and mental health and their crime desistance. To become a scholar of consequence who centers Black adolescent girls and young women involved with, or at risk of, involvement with the youth punishment system, I must partner fully with local and state organizations and government partners to conduct community engaged research that also transcends the classroom for students. Moreover, this population has been both understudied and underserved so amplifying their voices is warranted.
Why is it important to engage the community in your research and teaching?
Educating students, colleagues, and the scientific community about the current and historical context and its impact on populations who have been, and are currently, involved in the youth punishment system is based on my ability to build relationships with the community. As an extension of my social work practice and management experiences, identifying and addressing the needs of Black girls and young women involved in the youth punishment system is critical to developing effective, proactive services, prevention, and intervention approaches, as well as advancing effective practice, policy, and research. Investigating the role of protective factors and mechanisms that bolster or hinder health and mental health equity and outcomes is key to improving their development. These efforts must include the voices of girls and young women, providers who work with them as well as the organizations from which they derive.
Since joining Ohio State as a faculty member, I have developed strong relationships with the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), the City Council of the City of Columbus, Office of the Ohio Public Defender, Franklin County Juvenile Court, the Justice for Children Clinic at Ohio State's Michael E. Moritz College of Law, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, and numerous organizations like Black Girl Rising and UBUNTU Institute. Further, these relationships have led to my appointment and reappointment by the governor to the Ohio Governors Council on Juvenile Justice Statewide Advisory Group and my invited membership on the Ohio State Supreme Court Sub-committee on Juvenile Justice.
All these relationships have been integral in my success conducting community engaged research as well as teaching. Specifically, I use community engaged learning to incorporate community involvement into coursework for students. I believe my students need current experience to inform their developing skills, so I bring early career and seasoned practitioners into classes to share their practice experiences at all levels - micro, mezzo, and macro. These experts impart knowledge that reinforces the practitioner-based values I possess along with current and real-time examples from the field. For example, my partnership with the Moritz College of Law has afforded students the opportunity to visit the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center on multiple occasions and I have had a former student who is a mental health professional for an ODRC womens prison provide guest lectures on the intersections of mental health, substance misuse and incarceration.
What led you to the path of engaged scholarship? How did you get started?
Clinical and administrative social work practice are the core of my engaged research and scholarship, which derives from more than 15 years of professional engagement with clients, practitioners, communities, public institutions, policies, and research. My line of inquiry about adolescents and young adults is based on these experiences as both a clinician and administrator in social and health services, including dual diagnosis treatment services for women, children and adolescents in Chicago and Los Angeles. While working with African American mothers with comorbid mental health and addiction disorders, I noticed that many of them were also multi-system involved - child welfare and criminal justice systems. I also noticed that some of their children were involved with the child welfare system. In addition, many youth, but not all, were also dually involved with the juvenile justice system. Further, as I engaged in therapeutic treatment with them, it became evident that the women had histories of trauma that also affected their children.
Later, as a co-coordinator of the Urban Youth Trauma Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Institute for Juvenile Research, I worked with families whose children had both exposures to violence and trauma. Some of these adolescents engaged in substance misuse that was related to their trauma histories and were multi-system involved, which seemed to exacerbate their health disparities. Moreover, my work is positioned to highlight the strengths and protective mechanisms that I noted when I worked with youth and their families. Although many adolescents demonstrated externalizing behavior, i.e., aggression, some exhibited internalizing behaviors, i.e., irritability or suicidal behavior that seemed to mask depression. Several of the mothers and adolescents demonstrated signs of self-regulation and higher functioning, despite their trauma histories and system involvement. Greatly inspired by their strengths, I have dedicated my academic career to conducting research at the intersection of the community, its residents and the individuals, organizations and systems who serve them.
How has your scholarship benefited from engaging with community partners?
I believe my scholarship benefits directly from my engagement with community and government partners because it provides meaningful opportunities to share my voice and expertise in partnership with like-minded decision-makers, which advances the cause for vulnerable groups, especially Black girls, and young women. These relationships are inextricably linked in a manner that requires that I engage in activities that foster my research as they are based on trusting relationships I have built, which are necessary for work with populations who are system-involved. My ability to do this is based on my understanding about the importance of working with vulnerable populations, and the extensive review and approval processes that institutions and regulatory bodies require to secure access to these populations, as well as their information/data. I recognize the need for this as it is in accordance with federal regulations to protect vulnerable populations and ensure that researchers do not take advantage of them. Likewise, my research and especially my experience as a social work practitioner with individuals who are members of the populations who are the focus of my research and for over two decades I have worked with African American mothers, their children, and adolescents with histories of trauma and violence exposure. Without these relationships and partnerships, my research would not exist in the manner and form that it does presently.
What has been a highlight of your community engagement experience?
There have been so many highlights of my community engagement experience from being appointed/reappointed to the Ohio Governors Council on Juvenile Justice Statewide Advisory Group to being invited to attend Councilmember Priscilla Tysons Commission on Black Girls meetings and subsequently receiving funding to address poverty, stress and its effect on court-involved Black girls and their parents/caregivers who have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I believe the highlight of my community engaged work has been based on my partnership with the Office of the Ohio Public Defender. The impact of my research is respected as I was invited to give expert testimony for SB 256 - Revised Code regarding a bar against a sentence of life without parole, and special parole dates, for offenders who committed the offense when under age 18 and regarding dispositional hearings for abused, neglected, and dependent children. SB 256 passed the House Criminal Justice and later the Senate Judiciary Committees which the governor signed into law in January 2021. My involvement as a subject matter expert in partnership with the public defenders office shows the impact of my work as well as contributes to sustainability that is needed to reform the youth punishment system.
What advice would you give to faculty and students who are interested in engaging the community in their scholarship?
I would encourage both faculty and students who are interested in engaging the community in their scholarship to start with the fundamentals. Identify what matters to them and why and once they do that, learn as much as they can about the issue. This is a principle I teach in the classroom and in my research. As they are learning about the issue, they are passionate about, then they should find community experts who are engaged in similar efforts to hear their perspective on the issue. Second, they should remain open to what they learn even when empirical results suggest one thing versus what they expect or hypothesize. For example, I have been collaborating with colleagues to conduct a series of studies based on secondary data from a randomized control trial (RCT) with African American girls in a southern detention facility. The name of the RCT is Imara, which is a Swahili name meaning "strong" or "resolute." So, I refer to the series of studies and publications from them as the "Imara papers," and one study finding about African American girls who reported posttraumatic stress disorder did so even though they reported high rates of parental support.
I was surprised by this finding and after confirming no errors on our part, I turned to one of my community partners and asked them what they thought about the result. To my delight, they asked me one question "Were the parents of the girls asked about their trauma experiences in the study?" and my answer was "no." Thus, the parents' support was not measured and could have influenced how they interacted with the girls. This was a fundamental perspective that has changed how I think about my research in that I now include parents/caregivers in my future studies, which I had not done previously. Last, I would encourage them to not only learn from, but to anticipate their mistakes and how to learn from them. It's important to encourage faculty, and students to learn from their mistakes and view them as an opportunity to grow and improve. Often, setbacks, mistakes and/or failures can be a needed spark for future success as key lessons learned.
Sample Engaged Scholarship
Quinn, C. R., Beer*, O. W. J., Boyd, D., Tirmazi, T., Nebbitt, V., & Joe, S. (2021). An Assessment of the Role of Parental Incarceration and Substance Misuse in Suicidal Planning of African American Youth and Young Adults. Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, 1-13. doi.org/10.1007/s4615-021-01045-0.
Quinn, C. R., Boyd, D., Kim, B. K. E., Menon*, S., Logan-Greene, P. B., Asemota, E., DiClemente, R., & Voisin, D. R. (2020). The influence of familial and peer social support on post-traumatic stress disorder among Black girls in juvenile correctional facilities. Criminal Justice and Behavior. 48(7), 867-883. DOI: 0093854820972731.
Kim, B. K. E., Quinn, C. R., Logan-Greene, P. B., DiClemente, R., & Voisin, D. R. (2019). A longitudinal examination of status offenses among African American adolescent females. Children & Youth Services Review, 108, 104648. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2019.104648.
Logan-Green, P., Kim, B. K. E., Quinn, C. R., DiClemente, R., & Voisin, D. R. (2017). Ecologies of risk among African American girls in juvenile detention. Children & Youth Services Review, 85, 245-252. doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2017.12.030.
Quinn, C. R., Liu, C., Kothari, C., Cerulli, C., & Thurston, S. (2017). Psychological distress among youth probationers: Using social determinants of health to assess suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Adolescent Psychiatry, 7(2), 89-104. DOI: 10.2174/2210676607666170317143345.
Volpe, E. M., Quinn, C. R., Resch, K., Douglas, V., Cerulli, C. (2016). Assessing the feasibility and acceptability of narrative exposure therapy to address IPV-related mental health in parenting and pregnant adolescents. Journal of Family Violence, 32(4), 439-452. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1007/s10896-016-9818-y.
Volpe, E. M., Quinn, C. R., Resch, K., Sommers, M. S., Wieling, E., & Cerulli, C. (2017). Narrative Exposure Therapy: A proposed model to address intimate partner violence-related PTSD in parenting and pregnant adolescents. Family & Community Health, 40(3):258-277. doi: 10.1097/FCH.0000000000000072. PMID: 26422231; PMCID: PMC4811746.
Quinn, C. R. (2015). General considerations for research with vulnerable populations: Ten lessons for success. Health & Justice, 3(1), 1-7. Online publication. DOI: 10.1186/s40352-014-0013-z.
The College of Social Work, The Ohio State University - SWK 5014 Juvenile Delinquency & Correctional Practice in Social, Work Undergraduate (BSW, MSW Level)
I expanded the syllabi and assignment guidance using student feedback for the College's only course in youth corrections, SOCWK 5014 Juvenile Delinquency & Correctional Practice in Social Work. I focused on expanding the macro course content covered about the youth justice punishment and building in opportunities for students to develop skills with technology and social media, i.e., twitter as a vehicle to disseminate their final assignments in Fall 2017 and 2018.
Based on my existing partnership with the Office of the Ohio Public Defender (OPD), I am leading an advocacy effort with students in my virtual lab to promote the abolishment of the Bindover law, i.e., mandatory, and discretionary transfers of youth to Ohio prisons (Section 2152.10 of the ORC). Currently, the Bindover law has been added to the Ohio legislators' calendar for review. These opportunities allow me to collaborate with other decision-makers and provide current empirical evidence to support our decisions, as well as contribute to sustainability of much needed changes in state legislation.