Q How does Prostasia’s approach to combatting child sexual abuse (CSA) differ from that taken by some other child protection organizations?
A Prostasia is the first national child protection organization to promote evidence-based laws and policies for the prevention of child sexual abuse, while insisting that the human and civil rights of all are also upheld. We believe that children deserve to be protected by laws and policies that are effective, fair, and constitutionally sound. We promote an evidence-based, scientific approach that is informed by dialogue, outreach, and scholarly research. This results in us taking different positions than other groups on a number of key issues such as Internet freedom and the rights of sex workers.
Q Should Internet platforms be required by law to carry additional responsibility for CSA prevention?
A We support the current liability model that makes Internet platforms responsible for removing unlawful images of minors that come to their attention (using a “notice and takedown” approach), and we support the use of automated tools for the removal of the worst of these images, which is already an industry best practice. Changing the current liability model to make Internet platforms responsible for the actions of child sexual abusers will not help children, but will result in the censorship of constitutionally protected speech.
Q Is it Prostasia’s position that existing laws against CSA are too strong?
A No. Protecting children from sexual abuse is a vital function of government, and this includes the criminalization of sex between adults and children under any circumstances, and of the possession of child sexual exploitation material (child pornography). But a common mistake is to make laws that are broader than necessary to achieve those aims, so that they harm others (or even children themselves), and may be unconstitutional. Another mistake is that laws are often not evidence-based, which means that they are ineffective.
Q How do policymakers commonly misunderstand the causes of child sexual abuse (CSA)?
A Our society’s current default response to child sexual abuse is based on the stereotype that most child sex offending is committed by known sex offenders and by those involved in an “industry” of child sex trafficking. But neither of those stereotypes is true:
- 95% of sexual offenses are committed by someone with no criminal history
- 90% of CSA is perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts
- 77% of CSA is committed in a residence
- 73% of CSA is committed by those who are primarily attracted to adults
- 35% of CSA is committed by juveniles
Q Does that mean that we shouldn’t be focusing prevention efforts on those who match a “typical” sex offender profile?
A No, not at all. There is a lot of value in working with groups that are statistically more likely to harbor future sex offenders against children (such as foster families, those who work with children, and pedophiles). However, statistically most members of these groups won’t go on to offend, and many of those who do offend won’t be members of these groups. Therefore it is also important to adopt a broader primary prevention approach that targets the entire population with the information and resources needed to reduce offending.
Q Does Prostasia work with CSA survivors, offenders or those who are at risk of offending?
A No, we don’t do so directly. Although CSA survivors are represented on our Board, we are primarily an organization for policy advocacy and for the promotion of research. However we do support research into CSA prevention that can be used by other groups and agencies that do work directly with these individuals. If you or someone you know requires assistance to avoid or to recover from CSA, we have a resource page which links to other groups that can help.