That’s why researchers are increasingly studying child sexual abuse as a public health issue, with a focus on identifying risk factors that may lead to abuse and protective factors that may prevent it. But compared to the many millions of dollars we spend on civil commitment, trials, imprisonment, sex offender registration, and the like, we spend almost nothing on prevention.
“We're investing all of our money in a very small number of people,” Joan Tabachnick, a co-chair of the Prevention Committee of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, told me. “The primary prevention part, before any child is harmed undefined that’s where we need to ratchet it back to. But the way we invest is completely reactive and doesn't look at most situations of sexual abuse.”