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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Keyword: media

In 2016, the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse played a vital role in bringing knowledge and expertise of issues related to child sexual abuse prevention to the attention of our stakeholders.

Here are the headlines that have been the most impactful.

The List by Sarah Stillman. (The New Yorker). March 2016.
This long-form article describes the challenges of young adults who were required to register as sex offenders when they were children and discusses the work that researchers, policy experts and activists are doing to bring attention these harmful policies.

Should a Juvenile Offender be Locked Up Indefinitely? by William Brangham. (PBS NewsHour). June 2016.
The series “Broken Justice” looks closely at criminal justice issues and policies across the U.S.  In this episode, Brangham interviews youth who have been charged with sex crimes and are held beyond their release date. Dr. Letourneau asserts that because recidivism rates for juveniles charged with sex crimes are so low, the enormous cost associated with committing juveniles makes no sense and is a wasted cost to taxpayers.

After Jacob, Work Harder to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (op-ed) by Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD. (Star Tribune). September 2016.
Read our op-ed about the need for a paradigm shift in the way we view and respond to child sexual abuse. We cannot wait for children, like Jacob Wetterling, to be harmed before we take action.

What’s the Real Rate of Sex-Crime Recidivism? by Steven Yoder. (Pacific Standard). May 2016.
In the 1980s, a counselor working with convicted sex offenders made an assertion that would change history. Researchers, like Dr. Letourneau and others, are now setting the record straight: recidivism rates are much lower than were previously reported.

Read more news coverage here.

help wantedYou may have seen recent stories about the German prevention project Dunkelfeld that offers treatment to people who are sexually attracted to prepubescent children. This treatment philosophy is a marked departure from how we in the US have typically prevented child sexual abuse: by target-hardening children and strengthening sex offender registration and notification policies that are meant to prevent future abuse but aren’t effective.

Our current study, Help Wanted, conducted by Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is one of three youth and family-focused research projects that are developing prevention efforts that target specific populations at risk of offending.

In the Help Wanted study, we’re conducting qualitative interviews with a little known or understood population: young adults attracted to prepubescent children, but who have not committed abuse. Many of these people have said that they recognized their attraction in adolescence, but did not know what to do. We want to find out how young people manage this attraction and develop an intervention for those adolescents who are looking for help.

Help Wanted Goals

  • Why? People often think of sexual abuse perpetrators as predatory monsters. This idea is reinforced in the media when stories frame pedophiles as inhuman and anyone attracted to children as an inevitable offender. This hopeless view hampers efforts to provide treatment services and/or promote efforts aimed at stopping abuse before a child is harmed.
  • Purpose: We’re bringing 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.
  • Vision: 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.
  • Aim: We aim to develop, rigorously evaluate and broadly disseminate an effective prevention intervention for youth attracted to children that will be one step in our mission to prevent, and ultimately end, child sexual abuse.

Media Coverage:

Elizabeth J. LetourneauWe're gearing up for a busy and productive fall at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

Since our April symposium, we've been developing three separate child sexual abuse prevention interventions, and we've continued to gain interest from the media with our message that child sexual abuse is preventable, not inevitable.

In addition, we were featured in the media focusing on the civil commitment of sex offenders, how the criminal justice system treats youth charged with sex crimes, and commenting on a treatment program in Germany for those brave enough to admit an unwanted attraction to young children and ask for help.

I’m delighted that we’ve accomplished so much in such little time, thanks in part to our supporters.
Research Accomplishments:

  • Increased research participation by 22 percent in our youth and family survey study
  • Awarded a $350,000 grant to assess whether discrepancies exist in the juvenile justice system
  • Launched our newest research project, Help Wanted, on September 29
  • Welcomed Kenny Feder to the team as a PhD candidate 

Media Wins:

Congratulations to our founding donor
Stephen Moore was named chair of the Health Advisory Board at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He was mentioned in the Baltimore Business Journal’s People on the Move section in July.
We believe that child sexual abuse is preventable, not inevitable
Our vision is a world without child sexual abuse. While we’re working hard to raise our visibility and educate others about our Center, we can’t do this alone. Please donate to our Center’s research that seeks to end child sexual abuse by preventing it in the first place. 
To give via the web:

  1. Visit and click the “Give Now” box in the upper right hand corner of the page
  2. Select “Other” beside the “Please designate my gift to support” section
  3. Type “Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse” in the field

Thank you for your continued support. 

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, PhD

Luke Malone and Ryan ShieldsWhat does a conversation about preventing child sexual abuse sound like? As we start to talk more about shifting our focus from a criminal justice perspective about how to treat sexual offenders to the need for prevention interventions, I think it’s helpful for readers to get a sense of what questions we face when we talk about this paradigm shift. I pulled some of our most powerful quotes from 2014 media interviews to demonstrate how we answer some of the most pressing questions.

How do we change the conversation about preventing child sexual abuse?

“The idea that all sex offenders are monsters, and monsters are unpredictable, draws resources and political attention away from effective prevention efforts. We spend far more to address sex crimes after they happen.”  Dr. Letourneau in “We Need to Make it Easier for Pedophiles to Seek Help.” Time, Op Ed. October 2014

What does the public need to know about child sexual abuse prevention that they don’t?

“We don’t have prevention programs that target adolescents at risk of sexually abusing children, even though they account for more than 50 percent of cases. All the emphasis is on after-the fact policies. We must treat victims. We must detect and stop offenders. But if we really want to reduce harm, we need a stronger culture of avoiding the problem to begin with.” Dr. Letourneau in “We Need to Make it Easier for Pedophiles to Seek Help.” Time, Op Ed. October 2014

What keeps you up at night?

“We say we’re really concerned about sex offending and we really don’t want children to be sexually abused and we don’t want adults to be raped, but we don’t do anything to prevent it. We put most of our energy into criminal justice, which means that the offense has already happened and often many offenses have already happened.” Dr. Letourneau in “You’re Sixteen, You’re a Pedophile, You Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone, What Do You Do?” Matter Magazine. August 2014

What misunderstanding do we need to remove from the dialogue about child sexual abuse?

“The misconception is that youth who commit sex offenses are mini-adult offenders, that once a sex offender always a sex offender. The way we think about it in terms of a national dialogue, is that in applying harsh, restrictive, punitive, adult policies to kids, we’re sort of stopping future sex offending, sort of nipping it in the bud. But that doesn’t stand up to the empirical research that’s being done.” Dr. Shields in “Studies, Experts Question Effect of Placing Children on Sex Offender Registries.” The Youth Project. December 2014

For more stories about the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, read our 2014 annual report.  To read more news articles, click here.