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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Date: Dec 2014

PennsylvaniaRecently, I was contacted by a reporter from Bloomberg Businessweek to comment on the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles is unconstitutional. Click here to read the court's opinion. 

My research was cited in the lower court's opinion and a colleague who has been shepherding this particular court case sent me the findings yesterday.

Please read the Bloomberg Businessweek article: Pennsylvania's Juvenile Sex Offender Registry Is Unconstitutional, State Supreme Court Rules.

Thank youThank you for your support of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.  

Since our launch in October 2012, we’ve been working diligently to achieve our mission to support and conduct research that betters our understanding of child sexual abuse prevention, educate policymakers and the public, and cultivate partnerships with organizations to develop proven strategies that prevent child sexual abuse.  Below are some highlights from 2014.

Research

We are conducting several research projects to help us better understand how current policies affect children and families, as well as determine best-practice approaches to working with young adults attracted to children.

  • Help Wanted – This is a collaborative project that aims to develop and evaluate a prevention intervention for adolescents who are attracted to younger children.  This project was featured in Luke Malone’s award winning radio story on This American Life and written for Matter Magazine. The story focused on the total lack of resources for non-offending youth who desire help for their unwanted sexual interest in children.
  • Safe Harbor – Launching in early 2015, this study will determine whether sexually exploited children who’ve had access to Safe Harbor laws, (laws designed to ensure access to resources without fear of prostitution charges), fare better than children who are not protected under this legislation.
  • Youth Survey – We are surveying youth who have exhibited inappropriate sexual behavior and their caregivers to determine how placement on sex offender registries affects their mental health, family well-being, and social support systems.
  • Juvenile Sex Offender Registration Notification Policy Evaluation – A multi-state evaluation, this study will determine the impacts of registration and notification policies on recidivism rates in different states.

Education

Each year we bring leading researchers together to inform our stakeholders on the latest findings in child sexual abuse prevention. We held our second annual symposium, Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective, in April 2014 with a record number in attendance. Members of the Johns Hopkins community as well as attendees from nearby universities, organizations and members of the general public heard experts present their latest findings on child sexual abuse prevention, law enforcement efforts, mandatory reporting, and the policy impact of prevention initiatives. 

Because education is an important component of our mission and to capitalize on the public’s desire to know more about our research, we hired a full-time communication associate to develop strategies to inform our stakeholders. Part of our strategic communication plan includes launching several new communication vehicles to effectively drive key messages that will educate the public and policy makers as well as strengthen our appeal for support to potential funders and donors. Luke Malone’s story generated much interest from the media in 2014. Many articles were featured in publications including the Washington Post, Time, and the Baltimore Sun to name a few. Please see our press page for more articles. 

Partnerships

Our advisory boards help us further our mission by guiding our research and advising us on public policy to affect change. Our Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of leading scholars from organizations in the field of child sexual abuse research including Madeline Carter from the Center for Effective Public Policy, David Finkelhor from Crimes Against Children Research Center, Deborah Donovan Rice from Stop It Now! and James A. Mercy from the National Center for Injury Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to name a few.

Members of our Policy Advisory Board include Allison Abner, Faiza Mathon-Mathieu, Autumn VandeHei and Tracy Sefl, founders of the Advisory Council on Child Trafficking who have extensive experience in law, policy, government relations, and political campaigns.

Looking Ahead to 2015

We will host our third annual symposium, Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective, on April 17, 2015.  We are excited to announce that Luke Malone will be presenting a recap of his radio story. Registration for this event is now open

Our mission greatly relies on the support of our donors. If you would like to donate, please visit www.jhsph.edu/giving and click the “Give Now” box in the upper right hand corner of the page. Please select “Other” beside the “Please designate my gift to support” section and type “Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse” in the field.

Thank you for your continued support and best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

Paedophile Next DoorThe Paedophile Next Door,” a documentary that aired on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, illustrates, in high relief, many of the problems faced by child sexual abuse victims, offenders, citizens and policy makers. Remarkably, this story also documents the problems faced by non-offending pedophiles, that is, people living with – but not acting on – sexual attraction to children.

This documentary helps demonstrate the weakness of the typical “monster” frame that we have for men attracted to children. These men are not all monsters – certainly not the ones who refrain from abusing children. And even when considering those who have abused, viewing them as monsters is not only unhelpful, it is harmful to our own self-interests. As demonstrated in the show, communities that banish known sex offenders simply remove them from known addresses – from which they could be monitored – to unknown addresses from which they might be more likely to continue to harm others. But there is more damage wrought by the monster frame than just this.

When we convince ourselves that only monsters would sexually abuse a child, then we blind ourselves to the red flags in our own families, social circles and communities. If someone we love or respect acts in unusual ways with children or is even accused of abusing children, we often look away, unable to fathom that a good man (or woman) would do something so harmful to a child. And so headmasters get away with abuse, fathers get away with abuse, and coaches, teachers and doctors get away with abuse. For decades.

Another problem with the monster frame is that it prevents us from viewing child sexual abuse as preventable. Monsters are unpredictable, unknowable, and thus their actions cannot be prevented. Yet, as we saw in this excellent piece of reporting, there are men – an unknown number, and surely some women though far fewer – who make the moral decision to avoid acting on their sexual attractions to children. If we also view these people as monsters, or monsters-in-waiting, then we cannot offer them help or hope.

It is better now – there is far less child sexual abuse and far more reporting of abuse when it does occur now than at any time in the past 25 years. But still, too many children are left vulnerable by our collective unwillingness to recognize that even those we hold most dear might engage in the sexual abuse of children.

We must de-stigmatize help seeking by these people, and then we must be ready to provide effective prevention interventions. At the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, our mission is to conduct research, evaluate policies, inform the public and partner with like-minded organizations in order to create and disseminate proven prevention strategies. Investing resources in the development, evaluation and dissemination of effective prevention measures – particularly those targeting individuals most in need and most at risk – might be one of the most effective ways to reduce the rates of child sexual abuse. Certainly it is superior to waiting for abuse to happen and only then reacting.