Saturday, December 31, 2016

Primary Prevention in 2017

I do have some goals for 2017 in regards to primary prevention. This list has no bearing on any future projects, I mean, the whole tone of New Year's resolutions and the like.
I would like to break them down into several categories:

  1. Educating The Public
  2. Sex Offender Registration
  3. Sex Offender Notifications
  4. Sex Offender Residency Restrictions
  5. Educating Families
  6. Sexual Education
  7. Miscellaneous Sex Offender Restrictions

These categories are distinct from the mission statement I have, as these are unique to 2017 and are based on what was accomplished last year. Each goal, in detail:

Educating The Public

The public has a right to know basic and counter-intuitive information about sex crimes. In 2017, it would be ideal if the average person knew what I would say are the top three facts about child sexual abuse: 95% of sex offenses are from first-time offenders (not sex offenders), 90% of abuse is perpetrated by those known and trusted by the victim, and child sexual abuse affects 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls by the time they turn 18. Will you help the facts about child sexual abuse be known in 2017?

Sex Offender Registration

Sex offender registration has become onerous in the political realm, as well as a financial burden. The trend in 2016 was that the registration requirements of sex offenders do not align with the biggest risks to the general public. Seeing more judicial wins in 2017 that strike down onerous requirements that distract from real public safety threats would be a plus.

Sex Offender Notifications

Sex offender notification has become, to some people (like the vigilante Donna Zink in Washington State, who refuses to read studies on the subject), a way of preventing sex crime. However, many studies and articles surfaced in 2016 (like this one and this one, and this Quartz article and this one for honorable mentions) showing that these notifications only do well under certain circumstances. Therefore, it would be helpful in 2017 if the notification requirements in some areas (similar to the judicial wins on registration) would be lessened.

Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

This is perhaps one of the biggest areas that needs addressing: States and cities that believe that by restricting where sex offenders can live, when they have been shown to have the opposite effect of increasing recidivism and homelessness. More judicial wins that strike down sex offender residency restrictions would be a fantastic win in 2017 (Michigan gets honorable mentions here for their recent supreme court win, which among other things, struck down residency requirements for some offenders).

Educating Families

Families knowing how to prevent child sexual abuse, before it happens, by knowing the warning behaviors in potential abusers is nothing but positive. The more families are aware in 2017 that a potential abuser can look very much like a great mentor for children, the better. Also, the more resources that are available to the general public, the better. I may or may not have something in the works in that regard, but of course, I cannot confirm or deny that as of yet.

Sexual Education

As with educating families, the more children and teens know the facts about sex and sexuality, the more prepared they will be to make informed decisions about sexual behavior. The more prepared they are, the more they will be able to ask for help if they need it. If more states pass legislation requiring sexual education (or sexual abuse education), primary prevention will be furthered in 2017.

Miscellaneous Sex Offender Restrictions

There are many sex offender restrictions that have no bearing on public safety, like social media use. Other restrictions have included registering any and all internet accounts, avoiding libraries (because the children), and avoiding the state fair (because sex offenders lurk in the shadows waiting to kidnap your children, apparently). Can it just be said that the more restrictions are based in factual information, like studies and such, the better? 

Let us all make 2017 a safe place for children, and do what we can to stop child sexual abuse... before it happens. Let us ring in the new year, remembering our most vulnerable people: Children.

Oh, and there are some hints in this post for something big that might be coming in 2017, in case you missed them. Enjoy the New Year, 2017.