Child Sexual Abuse: The Need for a Perpetration Prevention Focus

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In the evolution of efforts to reduce child sexual abuse (CSA) rates in the United States, there has been a gradual shift to add preventive measures to after-the-fact interventions (i.e., interventions and policies implemented after the abuse has already happened, such as services and treatment for victims and punishment, treatment, and management of offenders). Prevention of CSA perpetration, however, is often missing from these efforts, despite decades of experts calling for broader prevention solutions. The current paper describes the scope of the problem of CSA, highlights problems with an over-reliance on after-the-fact interventions, and describes promising perpetration-focused CSA prevention interventions. While most existing preventive efforts focus on teaching children to protect themselves from incurring sexual harm, perpetration prevention efforts may hold more promise by addressing the onset of harmful behavior. As such, perpetration prevention efforts can contribute to a more robust and comprehensive approach to CSA–an approach that focuses on prevention of harm from occurring in the first place, as well as responding once harm has occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-40
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • Child sexual abuse
  • prevention
  • public health approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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