What Is Primary Prevention?
© TNF 13
Currently, our focus on sex crimes is not where it should be. Currently, we focus on things that are less impactful to ensuring that sexual crimes do not happen. A nice illustration is at left: Our focus is primarily on populations that do not commit new sexual crimes ("sex offenders"), while ignoring the reality that most who commit sexual crimes are those new to the criminal justice system.
In other words, we react to sexual crimes, rather than attempting to stop them before they happen, and that is what primary prevention is: The prevention of harm before it occurs.
As it applies to child sexual abuse, that means that this site focuses on preventing child sexual abuse before it has a chance to happen: Primary and secondary prevention. While this goal may seem unrealistic, there are several methods for preventing sexual abuse commonly mentioned by researchers:
- Using trauma-informed care for children and adults who have had rough experiences in childhood
- Helping pedophiles who may be struggling with their attraction to children (pedophilia) before they reach the point of being at-risk to sexually abuse a child
- Helping parents, caregivers, and others who work with children (teachers, babysitters, coaches, etc.) find proper ways of dealing with stress and significant life events that do not involve turning to children for support
- Helping people who have thoughts about sexually abusing a child (but are not attracted to children) find the proper judgment-free help before they hurt a child
This contrasts to the common method of attempting to stop child sexual abuse in the United States: Tertiary prevention, or preventing further instances of abuse where they are already occurring.
Some of these tertiary methods may include (from most helpful to least helpful):
- Helping sexual offenders understand their actions, why they behaved that way, and how they can act differently in the future
- Punitive correction methods, such as incarceration, probation, or other legal mandates
- Registries of sex offenders available to law enforcement to investigate new sexual crimes (despite the fact that 95% of new sex crimes are committed by those new to the criminal justice system)
- Publicly identifying sex offenders (despite little evidence that such identification works to prevent future crimes)
- Restricting where sex offenders can live or work (despite overwhelming evidence in research that residency restrictions increase the risk of recidivism, rather than decreasing it)
- Requiring sex offenders to abstain from social media, internet, and other technologies (despite little evidence that registered sex offenders use these tools to perpetrate new sex crimes)
While most would agree that all prevention styles are needed, many would also agree that priority needs to go towards doing what the facts indicate is effective. This means that the focus should be on primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention, in that order.
That is what this site is all about: No victims in the first place.