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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Keyword: help wanted

In November 2016, Moore Center staff attended the 35th Annual Research and Treatment Conference sponsored by the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) in Orlando. The focus this year was “Different Roles, Same Goals: Preventing Sexual Abuse.”

The Moore Center research team presented current projects to researchers, scholars, treatment providers, advocates and other ATSA members. Below is a quick recap of those presentations:

Moving the Field: Developments in the Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention of Sexual Abuse by R. Karl Hanson, Mark E. Oliver and Elizabeth J. Letourneau

  • Speakers presented the argument that child sexual abuse is a preventable public health problem and maintained that focusing on prevention of youth-perpetrated sexual harm is a worthwhile and feasible endeavor.

Help Wanted Project: Addressing Needs of Adolescents Sexually Attracted to Children by Ryan T. Shields and Amanda Ruzicka

  • Speakers presented a general description of the interview subjects (individuals with a sexual interest in children, but who have not acted on their attraction) and common themes.
  • Subjects reported attempting to seek help but were unable to find any.
  • They also reported that their main struggle was not refraining from acting on their attraction, but rather with figuring out how to cope with such an attraction and how to live a happy and healthy life.

Impact of Sex Crime Policies on Youth and Their Families by Geoffrey Kahn and Cierra Buckman

  • Key findings from this study include that youth who are required to register as sex offenders are four times more likely to have attempted suicide in the past 30 days and are three times more likely to be approached by an adult for sex than youth who do not have to register. 
  • Caregivers of youth who are required to register experience an increased average number of negative consequences than those who are not required to register. 

ATSA’s mission is dedicated to preventing sexual abuse through research, education and shared learning and the effective management of individuals who have sexually abused or who are at risk of doing so. The annual conferences attract around 1400 attendees and have hundreds of speakers.

Help WantedWe are pleased to announce that the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse received a one-year grant for $50,000 from Raliance – a collaborative initiative dedicated to ending sexual violence in one generation. This grant will help fund our “Help Wanted” project that aims to reduce perpetration of sexual violence by developing a web-based prevention intervention for adolescents sexually attracted to children that will also include additional resources for families and practitioners.

“Securing funding for our ‘Help Wanted’ project has been an up-hill battle, in part because there aren’t as many resources available to study prevention science as there are to address the aftermath of child sexual abuse – victim services and punishment for offenders, for example,” says Ryan Shields, assistant scientist at the Moore Center and the project’s principal investigator. “With funding from Raliance, we are excited to begin the next phase of 'Help Wanted'.”

“Help Wanted” is the Center’s flagship prevention project that aims to create a highly effective prevention intervention that is available to all youth who are attracted to children. The main goals of the intervention are to reduce the risk that adolescents attracted to children will act out on those attractions and to enhance their own healthy development.

Raliance was recently founded by three leading sexual violence prevention organizations – the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)-PreventConnect and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV). The organization will serve as the central hub for effective allocation and distribution of programmatic funding for sexual violence response and prevention efforts.

As its first initiative, Raliance has funded 27 projects – including “Help Wanted” – totaling nearly $1.2 million in the first round of an ongoing grant program. This initiative is made possible through a multiyear, $10 million commitment from the National Football League (NFL). 

Help Wanted PinkWhile we’ve made tremendous progress recruiting participants for our Help Wanted study, we still need 10 more contributors to meet our goal. Participants must be 18 to 30 years old, fluent in English and developed an attraction to prepubescent children during or prior to adolescence. The ultimate goal of Help Wanted is to develop and provide helpful resources to adolescents attracted to young children. 

After we complete the anonymous interview process, we will analyze and summarize themes from the interviews and discuss how these themes will influence the development of a prevention intervention, one that is available to all youth with a sexual attraction to younger children. The prevention intervention will address the needs of adolescents attracted to children and promote their healthy development. We’ll also ensure that all materials destigmatize the act of asking for help. 

For more information about the project, see our recent blog post.

If you or someone you know is eligible to participate, please click here or contact our research team directly at MooreCenter.JHSPH@gmail.com.

Help Wanted StudyWe are currently recruiting young adults who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children to participate in an anonymous study with the goal of identifying how to best develop and provide helpful resources to adolescents attracted to young children.

Adolescents who are attracted to young, prepubescent children (ages 12 and younger), but have not offended, have very few resources or mental health assistance available to help them with their attractions. As a result, many of these adolescents become isolated from their families, peers and communities, and often struggle as they acknowledge their attraction and what it means for their future.

Participants must be between 18 and 30 years old, fluent in English and developed their attraction during or prior to their adolescence. Participation is entirely anonymous and voluntary. The study consists of two parts: an anonymous phone or computer-based (i.e., Skype or Google Hangout) interview and a brief (10 minute) anonymous online survey. During the interview, trained interviewers ask questions about how an attraction to children during adolescence has impacted experiences and relationships and what resources could have been beneficial. The post-interview, online survey asks participants more general information such as age, as well as questions about childhood experiences and sexual development.

The Help Wanted study is the first step of an ATSA Collaborative Project, led by Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, to develop a public health prevention intervention aimed at helping adolescents who have an unwanted sexual interest in young, prepubescent children lead fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you know is eligible to participate, please click here or contact our research team directly at MooreCenter.JHSPH@gmail.com.

Happy New YearSince our launch in October 2012, we’ve been working diligently to achieve our mission to support and conduct research that betters our understanding of child sexual abuse. This work has culminated in new grants, research projects and media opportunities in 2015. Below are some highlights.

Grants

Last January we were awarded a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to study the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In May we were awarded a grant from a private, advised donor fund to study the bias in judicial outcomes for youth who have sexually offended. In September we were included on a grant awarded to our colleague Dr. Debra Furr-Holden from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study alcohol policies that prevent and reduce youth violence exposure, and most recently we received funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support our evaluation of the collateral consequences of juvenile sex offender policies.

New Research Projects

Last October we launched a research project that will help us determine what strategies could help prevent adolescents with an unwanted attraction to young children from engaging in abusive behaviors. Help Wanted, a project that was featured in Luke Malone’s groundbreaking This American Life podcast, has helped raise awareness of this little-known and poorly understood population, a group that if targeted with effective preventive strategies early in their adolescence, could help avert many cases of child sexual abuse.

Media Opportunities

Last year we increased our media coverage and reached the public through a variety of news sources, including local news stations, public radio interviews and national and international publications. Highlighted news stories include a podcast forFreakonomics on the disproportionate costs that sex offenders and the public pays for their incarceration, an Upworthy article about the treatment program Project Dunkelfeld and our research, and a cover story for Psychology Today about the treatment of sex offenders and how harm could be prevented with a better understanding of what behaviors leads to abuse.

Looking Ahead

Since it’s inception, our Center has been supported by a Scientific Advisory Board, comprised of experts in child maltreatment, violence prevention and child sexual abuse prevention policy and practice. We are grateful for members’ time and talent. This year, we will invite additional members with expertise on the framing of child sexual abuse and related concepts to join our board. Additionally, we plan to move our annual Scientific Advisory Board meeting to the fall.
 
We will host our fourth annual symposium, Child Sexual Abuse: A Public Health Perspective, on April 21, 2016.  We are excited to announce that Jennifer Bleyer, writer and editor at Psychology Today, who wrote the cover story we were featured in and who has been covering child sexual abuse prevention extensively, will be presenting a recap of her story, “Sympathy for the Deviant,” and moderating our panel. Registration for this event will open later this month.

Thank you for your continued support and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.