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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

 

Moore Center Annual Symposium April 27-29, 2021 

Child Sexual Abuse Symposoium 

Child Sexual Abuse:
A Public Health Perspective Annual Symposium & IGNITE 2021 Virtual Conference 

A collaboration with Darkness to Light 

 

 The focus of this year's virtual conference was collaboration. By working together, we made a bigger impact in the prevention of child sexual abuse.

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and Darkness to Light teamed up to offer their annual prevention events, Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective and IGNITE 2021, presented by the Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF), in a single virtual event. 

Whether you are a child advocate that works with an organization or independently, a public health professional, prevention professional, or wanting to learn more about protecting children from sexual abuse, our virtual conference provided talks and presentations that informed and reached these audiences:

Here are some highlights from our Moore Center faculty presentations and guest speakers:

Luciana Assini-Meytin, PhD, Assistant Scientist, Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Department of Mental Health,  Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Many organizations have measures in place to protect youth, but few front-line practitioners have access to a full array of prevention options. So the Moore Center developed a leadership desk guide that presents core principles and best practice guidelines for individualized prevention strategies, said Assistant Scientist Luciana Assini-Meytin, PhD. The guide covers eight key practice areas: focusing on child well-being; training; increased monitoring of adult-child interactions; collaboration with children and parents; identifying and addressing safety concerns; increasing accountability; addressing youth sexual behavior; and strengthening human resources.

Sarah Christofferson, Ph.D., PGDipClinPsyc, Director of Clinical Training, and Senior Lecturer, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Stand Strong, Walk Tall is New Zealand’s approach to “prehabilitation”, aimed at delivering therapeutic interventions and a better future for people who experience sexual attraction to children, said Sarah Christofferson, PhD, PGDipClinPsyc, Director of Clinical Training at the University of Canterbury. The reference to Standing Strong is about building self-efficacy and self-regulation, she explained, while Walking Talk denotes the self-acceptance to counter stigma and self-stigmatization. “What participants seemed to desire most was to be treated like humans in need of understanding, not monsters in need of vanquishing,” Christofferson said.

Bridgette De Lay, JD, Director, Prevent Child Abuse Programme, Oak Foundation

The response to COVID-19 has been a “shining example of the power of humanity to tackle a crisis at record speed when we need and want to,” said Bridgette De Lay, JD, Director, of the Prevent Child Abuse Programme at OAK Foundation. But getting the same commitment to prevent child sexual abuse will take recognition of what Rev. Martin Luther King called “the fierce urgency of now”. That begins with “so many like-minded allies who are committed to ending child sexual abuse,” she told participants. “We’re a small community, but what we lack in size, we make up in determination.”

Maggie Ingram, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Adults who have a sexual interest in children are at high risk of suicidal ideation and behavior compared to the general population—one survey with 193 respondents found 46% had thought about ending their lives, and 13% had tried. That’s largely due to poor self-esteem, low perceived social support, and hopelessness about a better future, said Moore Center Postdoctoral Fellow Maggie Ingram, MHS, PhD. Ingram’s dissertation pointed to the need to address stigma at its source, disentangle the concepts of attraction to children and child sexual abuse, and relieve stress at the societal level as well as with individuals.

Keith Kaufman, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Portland State University

A Sport Situational Prevention Approach (SSPA) enhances athletes’ safety and gives them greater voice, based on an evidence-based approach that dates back decades, said Keith Kaufman, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Portland State University and consultant to the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. The SSPA focuses on environmental factors, risky situations athletes may encounter, routine daily activities that may increase or decrease safety, and the role of policy in contributing to safety or risk. It opens the door for coaches and staff to flag missing policies, policies in need of updating, or excellent policies that need to be implemented more consistently.

It was so nice to be involved and have a voice on the risks athletes and coaches can run into and ways to solve them, said U.S. Paralympic swimmer Zach Shattuck. Discussions around the SSPA gave athletes a voice, allowed them to share and compare their concerns, and created space for them to talk about risks they’d experienced that coaches and staff may not have recognized.

The SSPA gave athletes the space to let coaches know where they felt the regulations didn’t quite fit, while building recognition that teams needed different sets of rules for minors and adults, said Queenie Nichols, Retired Director of the U.S. Paralympics Swimming Team. The process allowed female athletes to speak up about what mattered to them without feeling pressure from male teammates, and solidified a shared understanding that everyone depended on each other—that the athletes wouldn’t be there without the coaches, and the coaches wouldn’t be there without the athletes.

Christoffer Rahm, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator, Priotab, Karolinska Institutet, Chief Psychiatrist, Psykiatri Södra Stockholm

Sweden’s Prevent It program was a test of Internet-based psychotherapy for consumers of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), said Christoffer Rahm, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute. With online child sexual abuse increasing fast, the project assessed whether anonymous, online therapy could reduce consumption of CSAM in a sample of users who sought out those images and video files on the Darknet platform. The initial program was designed to build a psychosexual and psychiatric profile of CSAM users, improve recruitment and therapy, and build a theoretical and practical framework for expanding the project.

Michael Seto, PhD, Forensic Research Unit Director, The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research, and Professor in Psychiatry, University of Ottawa

“With generous support from OAK Foundation, I am joining forces with the Moore Center to work on a five-year program to advance a pro-active, public health approach to preventing child sexual abuse (CSA),” said Michael Seto, PhD, Director of Forensic Research at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research. He stressed that prevention is not just one thing: it includes interventions at the human level, on the immediate setting, and on the broader societal environment. The approach works in other areas of public health and primary prevention, and it can work to prevent CSA.

Ryan Shields, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Criminology and Justice Studies, College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell 

A clear view of child sexual abuse prevention means understanding the difference between the forensic population (people who have offended and been caught) and the much larger group of adults with sexual thoughts about children who don’t act on them, said Ryan Shields, PhD, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Justice Studies at University of Massachusetts Lowell. That includes challenging the “inherent assumption” that people in this group are constantly “on the edge of offending,” he said. He recalled the response when he asked one young adult how he managed his attractions. “I don’t know,” the patient said. “How do you manage your attractions?”

John Thorne, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Moore Center Postdoctoral Fellow John Thorne, PhD said child sexual abuse perpetration-focused prevention efforts usually focus on preventing those who have harmed a child from reoffending. Programs too often fail to deliver necessary support to people with a sexual interest in children who haven’t offended in part because the stigma surrounding. 

 

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