Child Sexual Abuse is Preventable, Not Inevitable

November 8, 2019 by Justin Lehmiller

Is child sexual abuse inevitable? A lot of people seem to be under the impression that it’s only a matter of time before someone who is attracted to children acts on their urges. However, pedophilia researchers increasingly believe that many—perhaps most—child sex offenses could actually be prevented if we just took a different approach to dealing with this problem.

In the TedMED video below, Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau asks a provocative question: “What if we stopped thinking about child sexual abuse solely as a criminal justice problem and instead treated it like the preventable public health problem that it is?” Letourneau’s point is that our current approach, which focuses almost exclusively on punishment for those who have already committed offenses (think things like incarceration and sex offender registration), is doing little to deter future offenses (and, in fact, such approaches may actually be counterproductive in some ways). Instead, she argues that if we focused more on prevention and less on punishment, we’re likely to see more results and, ultimately, save more children from abuse.

Check out the full video below to learn more and weigh in with your comments below.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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