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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Date: May 2015

Luke Malone and Ryan ShieldsWhat does a conversation about preventing child sexual abuse sound like? As we start to talk more about shifting our focus from a criminal justice perspective about how to treat sexual offenders to the need for prevention interventions, I think it’s helpful for readers to get a sense of what questions we face when we talk about this paradigm shift. I pulled some of our most powerful quotes from 2014 media interviews to demonstrate how we answer some of the most pressing questions.

How do we change the conversation about preventing child sexual abuse?

“The idea that all sex offenders are monsters, and monsters are unpredictable, draws resources and political attention away from effective prevention efforts. We spend far more to address sex crimes after they happen.”  Dr. Letourneau in “We Need to Make it Easier for Pedophiles to Seek Help.” Time, Op Ed. October 2014

What does the public need to know about child sexual abuse prevention that they don’t?

“We don’t have prevention programs that target adolescents at risk of sexually abusing children, even though they account for more than 50 percent of cases. All the emphasis is on after-the fact policies. We must treat victims. We must detect and stop offenders. But if we really want to reduce harm, we need a stronger culture of avoiding the problem to begin with.” Dr. Letourneau in “We Need to Make it Easier for Pedophiles to Seek Help.” Time, Op Ed. October 2014

What keeps you up at night?

“We say we’re really concerned about sex offending and we really don’t want children to be sexually abused and we don’t want adults to be raped, but we don’t do anything to prevent it. We put most of our energy into criminal justice, which means that the offense has already happened and often many offenses have already happened.” Dr. Letourneau in “You’re Sixteen, You’re a Pedophile, You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone, What Do You Do?” Matter Magazine. August 2014

What misunderstanding do we need to remove from the dialogue about child sexual abuse?

“The misconception is that youth who commit sex offenses are mini-adult offenders, that once a sex offender always a sex offender. The way we think about it in terms of a national dialogue, is that in applying harsh, restrictive, punitive, adult policies to kids, we’re sort of stopping future sex offending, sort of nipping it in the bud. But that doesn’t stand up to the empirical research that’s being done.” Dr. Shields in “Studies, Experts Question Effect of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries.” The Youth Project. December 2014

For more stories about the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, read our 2014 annual report.  To read more news articles, click here.

Register now to attend the Summer Institute Course, Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective, taking place Wednesday, June 10 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. This all-day course is open to students, researchers, professionals and anyone with an interest in child sexual abuse prevention.

Course objectives include learning about public health strategies used to address child sexual abuse detection and prevention, treating victims and offender interventions. The course will ask students to analyze current approaches to child sexual victimization, detection and prevention with a focus on understanding the limitations of formal social responses. Finally, Drs. Letourneau and Shields will introduce new approaches in perpetrator-focused primary prevention.

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