Reshaping Sex Offender Policy for Prevention

The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) recently released "A Reasoned Approach: Reshaping sex offender policy to prevent child sexual abuse," written by former Stop It Now! staff, Joan Tabachnick (ATSA Prevention Committee) and Alisa Klein (ATSA public policy consultant).

The policy paper makes three broad recommendations that Stop It Now! wholeheartedly supports:

  • Design and implement evidence based policy.
  • Develop successful community policies that expand the notion of what constitutes abuser accountability; encourage community responsibility and healing, and; provide safety, restitution, healing and avenues for input for victims;
  • Integrate what is known about perpetration into prevention, victim services, and public education.

The paper includes additional, detailed recommendations under each of these broad categories. 

Stop It Now! welcomes this policy statement, in particular its emphasis on evidence based policy for both prevention and sex offender management.  Much of the paper addresses policy related to treatment and management of people who have already sexually abused; an area led by groups like ATSA, the Center for Sex Offender Managementi (CSOM) and others. As a prevention organization, Stop It Now! fully supports the recommendations around integrating what is known about perpetration into prevention and public education. Read more about Policy.

For nearly 20 years, Stop It Now! has emphasized the importance of learning about the behaviors and situations that increase risk of child sexual abuse. We have talked about the need for hope and help for families and friends who are faced with the possibility that someone they know and often love may be acting in a sexually inappropriate way towards a child. And we have talked about how language like “monsters” and “predators” can have the unintended consequence of making it harder for people to see and take action when someone is behaving inappropriately around a child.

One need only look to our sister organization, Stop It Now! UK & Ireland, for an example of how the core philosophy and program elements of the Stop It Now! approach can be developed and supported based on national partnerships between prevention, treatment and law enforcement professionals.

Stop It Now! has also championed the need for cross-disciplinary professional partners to work together, sharing research, expertise, and points of view.  We initiated the research, done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that resulted in the publication of  "Risk factors for the perpetration of child sexual abuse: A review and meta-analysis" by Daniel J. Whitaker et al. (2008). We support the recommendation of communicating this growing knowledge about perpetration to the public and will continue to incorporate it into our public education materials.