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Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Keyword: tedmed

TEDMEDLast November Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse and professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, gave one of the most important talks of her life: A TEDMED talk about preventing child sexual abuse.

The talk weaves her experiences as a seasoned researcher who was surprised to learn that there were young adults attracted to children who made a decision to never offend against a child. A reporter named Luke Malone introduced her to this concept, and his reporting became a This American Life episode. From there, interest in this topic ballooned and eventually Letourneau was invited to share her story with the TEDMED audience and now that her talk has been released, she can share it everyone.

In Elizabeth’s blog on the TEDMED website, she writes that most cases of child sexual abuse (80%) occur in someone’s home, while 20% of cases occur in institutions such as schools, religious facilities, camps, foster care and other youth-serving settings. She also notes that half of all cases of child sexual abuse are caused by other children and adolescents. When asked, most children who have offended admit they didn’t know that their behavior was wrong, or they acted impulsively or acted out their own abuse. All of these factors practically demand that effective prevention programs and policies be implemented to protect all children from this preventable abuse.

We recently posted a column in Psychology Today that urges readers to help us get one million people to watch Elizabeth’s talk. We must change the way people think about child sexual abuse and start believing that a public health approach can, and will, effectively prevent it. 

TEDMEDWhat if we changed the way we think about child sexual abuse, from inevitable to preventable?  

Earlier this spring we received incredible news: we’ve been invited to speak at this year’s TEDMED conference in Palm Springs, California this fall in front of an in-person audience of over 800 thought leaders, innovators, scientists, students and those at the frontlines of health and medicine.

TEDMED, the independently owned and operated health and medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference, is dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.” The annual conference provides a multidisciplinary platform for exploring the most critical challenges in health and medicine from new and provocative angles.

This year’s event theme is “What If…?”and speakers will be imagining new possibilities and progress in medicine, public health and biomedical sciences.

Dr. Letourneau will be speaking during a session titled “Fringe,” which will explore the fringes of scientific study to discover new insight from topics such as extreme altruism, artistic patients and wild adventures.

Dr. Letourneau’s talk will focus on how child sexual abuse can, and should be, prevented using a public health approach and give insight into what research tells us about how to prevent youth sexually attracted to younger children from acting on their attractions.

The conference will be livestreamed around the world and many of the TEDMED talks have a second life on TED.com, where they can get millions of views and be translated into dozens of languages.

We’re very hopeful that TEDMED will help us reach new audiences and stimulate conversation around preventing child sexual abuse. Stay tuned for more updates later this fall.