On November 21, 2019, MFLN Family Development hosted the latest webinar in our ongoing Sexual Behavior in Children & Youth Series. In “From Hysteria to Hope: Bringing Reason to Sexual Abuse in Childhood,” Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau provided her insights into how problematic and/or illegal sexual behavior in childhood can be framed as a preventable public health problem. Dr. Letourneau is the Director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH).
Looking back at this fantastic webinar, we wanted to share some of the highlights that we found that stood out when addressing the impact of problematic sexual behavior for children and youth, as well as some resources that are beneficial for service providers working with children and families.
- Dr. Letourneau began her presentation with “The Case of Bobby,” a case study that provided a lot of insight into how prevention of problematic sexual behaviors are more beneficial than punishment after the fact.
- She also provided statistics that show how much we currently spend as a country on interventions like a treatment and punishment after the fact, versus how much lower the cost would be to focus on prevention.
- Many of the signs and behaviors that could lead to a child committing a sexual offense on another child were shared including: children who commit sexual offenses are often traumatized from their own abuse, Indifference and selfishness, a preoccupation with sex, impulsivity, and attraction to the thrill of breaking the rules.
- Dr. Letourneau also shared, not just the economic costs of punishment and incarceration for problematic and illegal sexual behavior, but also the psychological cost as well as the restrictions to affordable housing, employment, and education for those on the sex offender registration lists.
- She then went into what prevention programs can look like and the benefits in helping children before they commit a sexual offense on another child. By framing this issue as a public health approach, we can change the discussion and worldview we have on this topic.
- The Responsible Behavior with Younger Children prevention program, that is being implemented by the Moore Center, is a universal prevention program targeting 12-13 year-old students and their parents with knowledge, skills, and tools to avoid engaging younger children in sexual behavior.
- For more from Dr. Letourneau, be sure to watch her TEDMED Talk, “Child sexual abuse is preventable, not inevitable.”
- Also, head on over to the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse website to find out about all the great work that they are doing in the prevention of child to child sexual abuse.
If you happened to miss the live webinar, we have the recording of this Sexual Behavior in Children & Youth webinar on the event page here. Free Continuing Education Credits for this event are still available for licensed social workers, professional counselors, case managers, and family therapists until November 21, 2021.
And be sure to stay up to date on all of our programming in the Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth Series! You can sign up for our mailing list on our FD homepage to be sure you don’t miss anything in this series. This series will consist of several webinars and podcast episodes to go on into 2020, so be sure to stay tuned!