From a quick scan of headlines related to child sexual abuse, it’s clear that the public often thinks about sexual abuse perpetrators as monsters. Perhaps it’s easier to think of them as inhuman and to think of child sexual abuse as inevitable rather than believe that these crimes are 100 percent preventable. (I wrote about this “monster frame” in an earlier blog where I reviewed Channel 4’s recent documentary “The Pedophile Next Door.”)
At the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, our mission is to support and conduct research that betters our understanding of child sexual abuse, educate policymakers and the public, and cultivate partnerships with organizations to develop proven strategies that prevent child sexual abuse. In order to further our understanding of what causes child sexual abuse, we’re launching a research project called Help Wanted.
The purpose of Help Wanted is to bring experts from law enforcement, therapy, victim advocacy, prevention, research, and policy together to identify strategies to help youth attracted to children avoid acting on those interests. This project is designed to create a safe place for young people to seek effective professional intervention early, to ensure that they have the skills and resources needed to prevent them from harming children, and to equip them to develop in healthy ways that are safe for all involved.
The idea that anyone who is attracted to children will become an offender is hopeless and unhelpful. This view hampers efforts to provide treatment services and/or promote efforts aimed at stopping abuse before a child is harmed. Through our work we hope to change the way this issue is discussed and create a better understanding of interventions that work to prevent child sexual abuse.
To read more about this project’s scope and goals, please click here.