Child Health: Mitigating Risk and Supporting Protective Factors to Prevent Child Maltreatment

Rebecca Girardet*, Sara Nozadi*, Shelley Alonso-Marsden*

Child maltreatment exacts enormous personal and societal costs occurring in the short-term, throughout individual lifespans, and affecting future generations. New Mexico ranks poorly in measures of child abuse and neglect, and in measures of known risk factors for child maltreatment. Preventing child maltreatment can prevent other forms of violence, including youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, self-harm and suicide. Children who grow up physically and emotionally healthy are more likely to lead lives that are personally and economically successful.

Abatement of child maltreatment is an integral component of UNM’s mission to improve the lives of all New Mexicans. Mission success will require a coordinated, scientifically-driven, multidisciplinary team approach, addressing multiple elements across the social ecology, including economics, physical and mental health, and environmental well-being.

In 2022, UNM launched the Child Health Grand Challenge, whose aim is to formulate a systematic approach to prevent child maltreatment in New Mexico. The UNM Child Health Grand Challenge Team includes professionals in child health, mental health, public health, environmental sciences, communication, child development, child protection, and the broader community. We are working together to address gaps in knowledge about the scope and drivers of child maltreatment in New Mexico, and to develop ways to measure the efficacy of prevention programs.

The Child Health Grand Challenge Roadmap:

chart depicting the child health grand challenge roadmap

Child Health Grand Challenge Team Members:


Rank / Title



Girardet, Rebecca (lead convener)


Pediatrics (SOM)

 Nozadi, Sara (convener)

Assistant Professor

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Castro, Elizabeth

Strategic Support Manager

Institute for Resilience, Health & Justice (Office of Research)

Cruz, Theresa

Associate Professor

Pediatric Prevention and Population Sciences

Fowler, Rebecca

MPH Research Scientist

Cradle to Career Policy Institute

Gong, Xi

Assistant Professor

Geography & Environmental Studies

Grasse, Alexis


Pediatrics (SOM)


Hong, Yangsun

Assistant Professor

Communication & Journalism

Jacobson, Holly

Associate Professor


Morelli, Claude

Research Scholar

Civil, Construction & Environmental Engineering

Rodriguez, Monique

Assistant Professor

Individual Family Communication Education (IFCE)

Rogers, Danny

Assistant Professor

Pediatric Neurology (SOM)

Ruyak, Sharon

Assistant Professor

College of Nursing

Sanjuan, Pilar

Associate Professor

Family & Community Medicine (SOM)

Schaub, Ariel


Pediatrics (SOM)

Shelley Alonzo-Marsden, Shelley

Assistant Professor

Psychiatry (SOM)

Stephen, Julia

Adjunct Professor

Mind Research Network (external); UNM Physics Astronomy

Strickler, Leslie

Assistant Professor

Pediatrics (SOM)

Yu, Xiaozhong John


College of Nursing