Effective communication is critical to child sexual abuse prevention
November 18, 2022—The Moore Center’s annual symposium, the Envision National Prevention Conference, drew its largest and most diverse audience to date as survivors, researchers, policymakers, advocates, and providers came together to explore the importance of effective communication in preventing child sexual abuse. The virtual two-day conference was held in partnership with Darkness to Light and drew more than 1,200 registrants.
Speakers included researchers, advocates, experts, and survivors, who shared the tools, resources, and insights needed to keep kids safe from harm.
Daniela Ligiero, PhD, executive director of Together for Girls, spoke in her keynote speech about the need to change the narrative about child sexual abuse to invite people to create change. "We need to change from a narrative of despair and horror to a narrative of change and hope," Ligiero said. "There are things that can be done. We can do prevention. It doesn't have to be this way."
Other keynote speakers included Rosie Hidalgo, special assistant to the President and senior advisor on gender-based violence at the White House Gender Policy Council, and Anthony Edwards, an award-winning actor, director, and producer who is chairman of the board of directors of 1in6. Edwards spoke movingly about his experiences as a survivor of child sexual abuse and led a panel discussion about the need to unify male voices in the prevention of child sexual abuse.
"When men speak, their lives can change,” Edwards said. “The simple act of sharing 'This happened to me,' is the first and most important step men can make on a journey of recovery."
The Moore Center’s Rebecca Fix, PhD, led a thoughtful discussion with Pamela Mejia, MS, of the Berkley Media Studies Group, Karen Baker of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, and Joan Tabachnick about successfully framing conversations about child sexual abuse, a topic few people want to discuss.
“We’ve clearly broken the silence around child sexual abuse but we haven’t learned to talk about this yet,” said Tabachnick, head of DSM Consulting and founding co-chair of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers prevention committee. “Because of the monster concept we have about who does the harm we don’t see boundary violations by people we care about and love because they are not monsters.”
And in a session about media, misconceptions, and missed opportunities in messaging about people with sexual attraction to children, journalist Luke Malone and Moore Center postdoctoral fellow Allyn Walker, PhD, discussed the importance of recognizing the distinction between attraction and behavior, and how destigmatizing having an attraction to children can help people in need of support to access resources and keep kids safe from harm.
Other conference highlights included a session by Kacey Long and Alyssa Girardi of the Army of Survivors about the need to communicate effectively using trauma-informed and person-first language, a roundtable about challenges and solutions of engaging families and communities in child sexual abuse prevention, and a panel discussion about the Keep Kids Safe movement.