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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Date: Jun 2017

On May 22, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2017. The House’s judiciary subcommittee on crime, terrorism, homeland security and investigations worked to reauthorize the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, the only federal law that requires states, tribes and other jurisdictions to register children who have committed sexual offenses.

By removing one paragraph from Section 111 in the Adam Walsh Act that broadens the definition of “sex offender” to include adjudicated juveniles, our elected leaders could have ended this wasteful and ineffective policy.

On May 3, 2017, the South Carolina State Supreme Court upheld lifetime sex offender registration for behavior committed as a child. The court made this finding despite a decade of scientific research that clearly and consistently points to the failure of juvenile registration policies to improve public safety in any way. That much of this literature was based on data from South Carolina only heightens the distance between this ruling and the countervailing scholarship.

Read the rest of this post at Psychology Today column, Prevention Now.

Dean Klag and Dr. LetourneauOn May 22, 2017, Michael Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health awarded two members from the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse with awards during a ceremony to honor outstanding faculty and students in the Department of Mental Health.

Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD, director of the Moore Center and professor in the Department of Mental Health was presented with the Bloomberg American Health Initiative Excellence in U.S. Public Health Practice award for her work studying the effectiveness of policies intended to prevent child sexual abuse and make communities safer.

Since 2003, Letourneau has conducted a program of research evaluating the intended, unintended and collateral consequences of juvenile sex offender and notification policies. During this time, she and colleagues demonstrated that there have been no reductions in sexual, violent, or nonviolent recidivism rates among youth who have committed sexual offenses.

In fact, there are more harmful consequences associated with these policies than positive outcomes. Mental health providers treating youth who have sexually offended believe these policies are associated with substantial harm, placing youth at increased risk of mental health problems, harassment, school difficulties and living instability. There is also a reduced likelihood of prosecution most likely due to the perceived harshness and unfairness of these policies even in the eyes of prosecutors and judges.

Letourneau wasn’t the only person from the Moore Center who was presented with an award, however. Kenneth Felder, a PhD candidate studying under Letourneau was given the Paul V. Lemkau Scholarship Fund, which is given annually to an outstanding Department of Mental Health student or fellow who has made a significant difference in the community life of the department.