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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Keyword: policy

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse partnered with SCCAN, the Maryland State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, to draft bills that would help protect children from sexual abuse at school. Both bills made it out of the Ways and Means Committee this week.

These bills (HB 1072 and HB 1571) would require the county board of education to fund child sexual abuse prevention training for employees and require new applicants provide more detailed background information before they can be hired. HB 1072 would require annual training on the prevention, identification and reporting of child sexual abuse; authorizing the instruction and training to include information to help employees recognize and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct.

Maryland Delegate C.T. Wilson, who championed these bills, will be our keynote speaker at our annual symposium on Thursday, April 19. Register here.

Be sure to watch this remarkable debate on abolishing the sex offender registry hosted by the Reason Foundation. The debate was part of Reason’s Soho Forum, which organizes debates that asks audience members to vote for the most compelling argument. The debate took place February 12, 2018 at the Subculture Theater in Manhattan.

The debaters were Emily Horowitz, chair of the sociology and criminal justice department at St. Francis College, who supports abolishing the registry, and Marci Hamilton, CEO and academic director at Child USA, an interdisciplinary think tank to prevent child abuse and neglect, who argued for the registry.

Don’t have time to watch? Here’s a great recap by journalist Steven Yoder.

Dr. Rebecca Fix, assistant professor at the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, wrote a column for Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that was published Monday, Jan. 8, 2018. 

In her column "Young Sex Offenders Shouldn't Have to Register; It's Ineffective and Hurts Everyone Around Them," Rebecca makes clear that according to research, registering children as sex offenders isn't only ineffective, it's also harmful.

Rebecca illustrates her point by recounting the circumstances of a 15-year-old boy who was charged with rape after having consensual sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend:

"After returning to his community following confinement, Demetrius was no longer welcome on his high school athletic teams, and anticipates he will not be admitted into college due to his inability to be scouted by college teams. In addition, his family has been impacted by his registration status. Demetrius and his mother are moving to a new town, as their community has ostracized them. Demetrius’ mother lost her friends once word spread about his legal difficulties, and they are no longer welcome in their church."

This is one heartbreaking example of the unnecessary hardships that registration places on children and their families. Read Rebecca's column here.

Headlines about child sexual abuse prevention, research and policy from around the country

World Congress Child Dignity

Last week Dr. Letourneau, along with other researchers in the field of child sexual abuse prevention, attended this event held in Vatican City and convened by the Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection.

Dallas County’s Sex Offender Program is Letting Teens Down

State watchdog group issues report that details horrific negligence in the Dallas County Juvenile Department.

Halloween sex offender hysteria is starting early this year (see the long list of Patch.com’s sex offender maps)

  • Moore Prevention News: The Biggest Danger to Kids on Halloween is Drivers, not Sex Offenders.  Dr. Letourneau’s study looked at whether more sex offenses occur on Halloween night. The study found that there is no significant risk for child sexual abuse. The greatest risk to children on Halloween night is getting hurt by drivers who may not be able to see them in the dark.

Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Needs Reform

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the state cannot apply the sex offender registry laws to people retroactively. Michigan will have to revise the registry.

California Sex Offender Registry Laws to Change

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law that could purge 90 percent of the names off the state’s lifetime registry for sex offenders.

Colorado Lawmakers May Change Sex Offender Registry 

Lawmakers are reconsidering the fairness of the state’s sex offender laws

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.