On 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.