Adopting a Public Health Approach to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Posted September 13, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog adoptingapublichealthapproach 2017

Every 8 min­utes, child pro­tec­tive ser­vices sub­stan­ti­ates, or finds evi­dence for, a claim of child sex­u­al abuse, accord­ing to RAINN.

While this sta­tis­tic is unset­tling, we also know that ear­ly inter­ven­tion — even before an episode of abuse occurs — works, and it can make a tremen­dous dif­fer­ence in a child’s life.

This ear­ly action, stop­ping child sex­u­al abuse before is starts, is the focus Eliz­a­beth Letourneau’s TEDMED talk — and it’s also a pro­fes­sion­al mis­sion that she’s work­ing to realize.

Letourneau is the found­ing inau­gur­al direc­tor of the Moore Cen­ter for the Pre­ven­tion of Child Sex­u­al Abuse at Johns Hop­kins Bloomberg School of Pub­lic Health, and her 18-minute talk takes a close look at how ini­tia­tives that tar­get juve­nile sex offend­ers can play a key role in pre­vent­ing future offenses.

This pub­lic health approach is necessary—and need­ed, accord­ing to Letourneau, who is a trained clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist. Child sex­u­al abuse is a 100% pre­ventable pub­lic health prob­lem,” she says. There is no rea­son for us to wait for sex­u­al abuse to hap­pen before we intervene.”

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