SHSU Graduate Student Receives ACJS Award

SHSU Graduate Student Sara Simmons won a Madriz Award from ACJS.
SHSU Graduate Student Sara Simmons won a Madriz Award from ACJS.

Master’s Student Sara Simmons received a Madriz Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences for her research on the effects of intimate partner violence on substance abuse and depression.

The study, “The effects of intimate partner violence on drugs use and mental health for men and women involved in the NYSFS study,” was presented at the annual conference in Dallas. The paper found that men were more likely to increase problem alcohol consumption as well as the use of marijuana and illegal drugs after being victims of intimate partner violence, while women were more likely to increase their use of marijuana after perpetrating the crime.

“Males were more likely to experience problems,” said Simmons. “Females did not have the expected results.”

Every year, 1.8 million women and 835,000 men experience intimate partner violence. Simmons used the National Youth Survey Family Study, which is ongoing research that has followed 1,725 youth and their families since 1976 to measure changing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, to investigate the impact of intimate partner violence on depression and drug use. Simmons’ study measured the use of problem alcohol, marijuana, illicit drugs, prescription drugs and depression follow intimate partner violence for both the victim and perpetrator. Simmons was surprised by the results and hopes to investigate the issues further.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences logo.Simmons said she as “surprised and pleased” to be recognized with the award and hopes to pursue more opportunities in the future. Simmons was one of only two students to earn the award, which is presented by the Minorities and Women Section of the Academy, one of two major professional organizations in criminal justice. The award recognizes ethic and racial diversity in criminal justice education and is designed to advance critical thinking concerning women and gender issues in criminal justice. Her faculty advisors were Drs. Kelly Knight and Scott Menard.

“Sara just got accepted to the Ph.D. program, and it was the first paper she ever submitted,” said Dr. Knight. “Sara is unique because she is compassionate—she really cares about what happens to women in terms of their victimization. She is willing to roll up her sleeves and do the hard but often less exciting work. She often goes above and beyond. ”

Sara SimmonsSara SimmonsSimmons will receive her Master of Art in Criminology from SHSU in May, and has been accepted in the Ph.D. program beginning in August. She would like to specialize in victim issues and hopes to teach in the future.
Simmons became interested in victim issues while taking a Victimology course at St. Edward’s University in Austin. She has done volunteer work at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

“I’m interested in doing something in victimization,” said Simmons. “I took a victimology course as an undergraduate, and I am interested in the effects it has on people who are victims.”

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