other victims. This method of intervention has had mixed results as well; however, research
shows that current behavioral therapy treatments tend to decrease recidivism rates for sexual
293 The most effective type of therapy has been based on risk, need, and responsivity:
offenders who are likely to recidivate are identified, the therapy targets their characteristics that
could lead to re-offense, and then matches treatment to the offenders’ capabilities.
juveniles specifically, behavior therapy is an effective intervention in sexually abusive
295 Specifically, family-based therapy called Multisystemic Therapy (“MST”) has been
found to be one of the best interventions for juvenile offenders.
296 This type of treatment
combines cognitive-behavior therapy with “intensive family intervention that targets parenting
skills, affiliations with delinquent peers, and school problems.”
297 Interventional therapy is an
important prevention tool in addressing childhood sexual abuse, particularly among juveniles, and
focusing on long-term solutions.
C. Encourage Disclosure
For a child to actually have recourse against his or her abuser when the abuse is
happening, he or she must know the abuse is wrong, tell someone, and have someone believe him
298 If new reforms were able to affect the first step in that process and teach children that
sexual abuse is never their fault or a punishment they deserved, then the process of telling
someone would be slightly easier. Although striving for more disclosure through education of
children and those who care for them may seem like a small step, a child simply telling someone
that he or she is experiencing abuse could help disrupt an abusive relationship, prevent future
abuse, and even help to identify other victims. Ensuring that adults in a child’s life know how to
identify and appropriately respond to suspected childhood abuse could lead to children feeling
more comfortable coming forward. Child sex abusers usually commit abuse repeatedly before
getting caught, but after being discovered have a relatively low recidivism rate.
identifying and “catching” abusers is crucial and possible through increased disclosure.
Once these abusers are identified, another important preventative step is focusing on
effective behavioral therapy to decrease their likelihood of re-offending. Disclosure and treatment
can interrupt the cycle of violence that many people experience as a result of childhood sexual
abuse. Focusing on disclosure could help make communities feel safer, knowing that abusers
were openly identified and treated, which would decrease the need for public notification
programs. Additionally, early disclosure would allow victims increased access to justice, because
their claims would be less likely to be time barred. In combination with the existing and future
legislation, these types of reforms could help curb the overall rate of abuse.
293 R. Karl Hanson et al., First Report of the Collaborative Outcome Data Project on the Effectiveness of Psychological Treatment for
Sex Offenders, 14 SEXUAL ABUSE: J. RES. & TREATMENT 169, 186 (2002); R. KARL HANSON ET AL., PUB. SAFETY CAN., A META-ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF TREATMENT FOR SEXUAL OFFENDERS: RISK, NEED, AND RESPONSIVITY 23 (2009) [hereinafter
META-ANALYSIS], available at
294 META-ANALYSIS, supra note 293, at 2.
295 ILL. JUVENILE JUSTICE COMM’N, supra note 185, at 34; Finkelhor, supra note 17, at 177. The research evidence regarding juvenile
offenders is more persuasive than that of adults. Id. Two studies found that cognitive behavioral therapy can stem inappropriate
behavior in juveniles. Id.
296 Finkelhor, supra note 17, at 177 (citing three studies that supported this type of therapy); ILL. JUVENILE JUSTICE COMM’N, supra
note 185, at 34. One study compared a group of juvenile offenders who participated in MST to a group of juvenile offenders who were
treated as usual in group therapy. Id. The researchers found that the MST group had a forty-five percent reduction in their delinquent
behavior as compared to an eight percent decrease in the regular group. Id.
297 Finkelhor, supra note 17, at 177.
298 Khorram, supra note 12, at 407–08.
299 Finkelhor, supra note 17, at 177; LANNING, supra note 207. “A preferential-acquaintance child molester might molest 10, 50,
hundreds, or even thousands of children in a lifetime . . . . Although pedophiles vary greatly in personality characteristics, their sexual
behavior is often repetitive and highly predictable.” Id.