This excerpt is from our latest column, Prevention Now, in Psychology Today.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, a grand jury in Pennsylvania issued a report alleging that more than 300 priests in six dioceses abused 1,000 children over seven decades. Further, this report alleges that the bishops leading those dioceses perpetrated additional harm by concealing the abuse, rather than disclosing it. The report is the largest of any government agency in the United States on child sexual abuse within in the Catholic Church.
Over the last week, many people have asked me what we ought to do about child sexual abuse in the Church and I tell them this: We have taken an after-the-fact approach to child sexual abuse for 30 years. In this time, we made major inroads in the prevention of child physical abuse, child neglect, bullying and adolescent suicide. Consequently, we now have evidence-based effective prevention interventions for these types of childhood victimizations.
Child sexual abuse is also a preventable public health problem. And until our nation puts serious resources into the development, evaluation and dissemination of prevention efforts, we are going stay trapped in a cycle of abuse, outrage and disbelief.