Poco Kernsmith

Associate Professor Social Work
Phone: (313) 577-4437


Poco Kernsmith is an associate professor at Wayne State University. Her primary research interests include violence in families and relationships, including child abuse, sexual assault and coercion, dating and domestic violence and stalking. In particular, her interests include examining gender differences in perpetration, interventions with perpetrators, long-term effects of trauma on children, and prevention of violence and abuse. Her recent work focuses on preventing relationship violence among youth, with a particular focus on the role of social media and technology, and policies addressing reentry of sexual offenders.

Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, Kernsmith practiced social work with survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence. She has experience in crisis intervention, legal advocacy, community education, and interventions with children exposed to violence. Kernsmith is currently involved with several community collaborations to address the detection and prosecution of sexual assault, and community management of convicted sexual offenders.

Dr. Kernsmith is the lead teacher for research, teaching research methods and statistics. She also teaches elective courses in intimate partner and sexual violence, and social work education. She is actively involved in service to address curriculum and teaching across the university, including committees on general education, student evaluation of teaching, academic technology and the advisory board to the Office for Teaching and Learning. She has a research interest in the effectiveness of online education of learning outcomes, professional socialization, and student engagement.


Click here to view Curriculum Vitae

Degrees and Certifications

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Policy & Social Research, Department of Social Welfare
M.S.W., University of Michigan, Interpersonal Practice major, Community Organization minor
B.A., University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology and Women's Studies

Teaching Interests

Integrative seminar
Social research
Dynamics and intervention with family violence

Areas of Expertise


Intimate partner and family violence
Sexual assault and coercion
Childhood sexual abuse
Violent offenders
Prisoner reentry
Risk taking among youth and young adults
Online education


Quantitative survey research
Program evaluation
Qualitative interview research
Mixed methods
Policy analysis

Research Project

The Role of Technology in Abusive Relationship Behavior

In collaboration with Dr. Smith-Darden, this pilot research explores the attitudes and experiences of youth, their parents, and school personnel with technologically facilitated behaviors such as stalking, emotional abuse and coercive sexting.The goal of the project is to explore the etiology of youth intimate partner violence and sexual behavior in the context of social media and mobile technology and to develop education and prevention programs on healthy online and dating behavior.

Evaluation of the Impact of the Sex Offender Registration Policy

The Adam Walsh Act, implemented in Michigan in 2011, resulted in several changes to sex offender registration practices. The goal of this research is to examine the degree to which the changes impacted the composition of the registry, compliance rates, recidivism, and housing and employment instability.

For further details on other research, see Center for Social Work Research:

Office Location
5447 Woodward Avenue, Rm 257
Courses Taught

SW 7820 Research Methods in Social Work
SW 8570 Dynamics and Intervention in Family Violence
SW 9420 Research Practicum

In the News

Study: Half of kids admit to hurtful social networking