|by Elizabeth Letourneau, ATSA President 2014-2015|
Greetings from Baltimore, where we seem finally to be coming
out of an interminable winter. Slowly,
tentatively, and with the real possibility of relapse back into winter
weather. But we are coming out. I hope this note finds each of you well and
warm or at least warming.
As we head into Spring, there are many activities to report
on. I will mention just a few:
ATSA Executive Director,
Maia Christopher and her staff at the ATSA office, along with 2015 Conference
Chair Dr. Jean Proulx have been busy preparing for our 34th ATSA
Conference to be held in the beautiful city of Montreal. Confirmed plenary speakers include Drs.
Meredith Chivers, Richard Tremblay, and Frederick Lösel. I hope you are planning to attend this extraordinary
meeting, surely the best way to learn, network, and grow in our field.
The ATSA Board of Directors
(BOD) is soliciting nominations for three positions: Public Policy
Representative, Research Representative, and Treasurer. The first two are elected positions while the
BOD appoints the Treasurer position.
Please consider nominating yourself or a colleague.
Maia, incoming ATSA
President Mike Miner, and the BOD are also continuing efforts to develop a new
3-year strategic plan. We will be reaching
out to members for input into this plan in the coming months.
I also want to mention another activity. As many of you know, the ATSA “Help Wanted”
Collaborative Project is an ongoing effort to develop and, eventually, evaluate
an intervention for adolescents who are sexually attracted to young
children. As part of my work with this
project, I’ve spoken (or emailed, more often than not) with many young people
who live with such attractions. Most
recently, I had the great fortune to speak with a young man, “M” who lives out
west. He wants to help others who are
similarly afflicted with an unwanted attraction to children – help them remain
committed to avoiding harm and to believe in their own value and worth. He also wants to promote greater tolerance
and empathy among those who are not afflicted with such attractions. And so he was considering speaking out –
coming out – in front of a live audience. My audience. At my symposium, to be held
later in April.
To be 20 is to be a risk taker, almost by definition. That this young man is willing to speak out
about his attraction and how it has affected his life is remarkably selfless
and brave. And fraught with the
potential for harm. I fear that public
acknowledgement of his attraction might somehow derail college acceptances, job
offers, or place M at risk of harassment or worse.
There is real power in engaging the public with people who
overcome a sexual orientation toward children.
Their stories encourage empathy and hope. But how do we make this happen safely? I don’t pretend to know what is right. But to speak with M is to hear a sweet, kind,
and thoughtful young person. He reminded
me how very privileged I am to work in a field that touches the lives of so
We are all in the business of prevention sexual abuse – of helping
people stay out or get out of harm’s way.
I hope in your own practice you come across someone – maybe a client or
colleague or student – who reminds you how fortunate you are to work in service
of preventing sexual abuse.
I also hope everyone has a safe and beautiful spring. As always, please feel free to reach out to
me directly with your stories or for any other reason. My email address is below.
Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Ph.D.