Skip to content

Changing the Story of Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Building a More Effective Narrative

May 15, 2024

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is preventable. There is strong evidence that programs focused on preventing abuse before it happens are effective, but these programs can be a hard sell for a fatalistic public that has difficulty believing that CSA can be prevented in the first place. The widespread belief among the public that people who commit CSA are irredeemable people contributes to people’s fatalism about the issue and leads people to focus on extremely punitive responses to abuse rather than thinking about the possibility of preventing abuse before it happens.

To build understanding of and support for the prevention programs that work, we need a new narrative about CSA prevention—one that focuses on people who are at risk of committing CSA who don’t commit abuse due to the systemic supports they receive.

The “help provided” narrative described and recommended in this strategic brief is an alternative narrative that can do just that—change the way people think about the issue to build understanding that CSA is preventable with the right support. This new narrative focuses on the role of effective systems in individuals’ lives and centers the role people who are at risk of committing CSA can play in preventing abuse rather than focusing on what survivors should’ve done differently.