|by Michael Miner, ATSA President 2016-2017|
Well, summer has come to the Upper Midwest, with
temperatures here in Minneapolis forecast to approach 90 degrees
Fahrenheit. There is something ironic
about that, given decisions made here in the United States over the last couple
of days. The last few months have been a
busy time for ATSA and the Board. We had
our Spring Board meeting in early May in Kansas City, the site of October’s
Annual Meeting. I hope that all of you
are able to attend. Along with a great
program taking shape, Kansas City is home to amazing barbeque and is known for
its music scene.
One of the major accomplishments since my last column is the
release of the Practice Guidelines for Assessment,
Treatment, and Intervention with Adolescents Who Have Engaged in Sexually
Abusive Behavior. They are currently
available on the ATSA webpage and are a must read for anyone who works with
adolescents. I discussed some of the changes and
controversies in these guidelines in my last column, where I also acknowledged
members of the committee who drafted these guidelines. It is exciting to finally have them
available. Promulgation of new
guidelines and adoption of innovations and changes are complex processes that
impact multiple systems, especially in our field with the inter-related and
interactive involvement of courts, criminal justice agencies, corrections, and
mental health professionals. We have
learned a lot about adolescent males who have engaged in sexually abusive
behavior over the last 10 to 15 years.
We know less about females and special populations. These guidelines are meant to provide
treatment professionals with processes and procedures which are empirically
informed and/or validated. As our field
advances, changes in such processes and procedures are inevitable, and we are
challenged to change our practices to accommodate these changes.
Our collaboration with GIFR on the ATSA Master Classes
continues, with a large array of classes currently available. This collaboration is allowing us to meet our
obligation to members by providing education and training besides our annual
meeting. It also provides ATSA with
another funding stream, helping us to become less reliant on income from the
annual meeting and membership dues.
Concerns have been expressed regarding the impact of these classes on
Chapter meetings, as well as on our Annual Meeting. This is something the Board has been aware of
and concerned about from the start of this collaboration, and we will monitor it
moving forward. However, it is important
that ATSA keep up with the evolving education and training environment, and
have an on-line training presence.
The other major decision made by the Board in May was to
accept the recommendation of our journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Michael Seto, and
change the name of our journal from Sexual
Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment to Sexual Abuse. Dropping the
tag line brings the journal title more in line with its broader mission, to
expand content to include public policy, prevention, and victim advocacy. This expanded content is obvious from reading
the journal and is a tribute to Michael Seto and to the leadership of the
previous Editor-in-Chief, James Cantor, as well as the Associate Editors and the
Editorial Board. You probably won’t see
much evidence of the name change for a while.
I informed you in an earlier column of a grant that ATSA received from the United State Department of Justice, SMART Office. You’ll recall that ATSA received funding to implement treatment guidelines and to evaluate the impact of such guidelines. Unfortunately, we have decided to decline the funds from the SMART Office. This decision was due to an impasse between ATSA and the Justice Department regarding limitations on consultant daily fees.
Finally, for those members in the United States. I was made aware this morning, that the US
House of Representatives passed a bill that would change the Federal laws
regarding production of child pornography to include behaviors that would
capture children who engage in sexting behavior and would impose a minimum
required sentence of 15 years in prison for such behavior. Called the “Protecting Against Child
Exploitation Act of 2017”, this bill is another overreach by the United States
and fails to consider what is normal adolescent behavior and how a reasonable
adult should respond to the risky, and sometimes harmful, behavior of
children. I would encourage all of my US
colleagues to contact their Senators and implore them to oppose the “Protecting
against Child Exploitation Act of 2017” because it protects no one and abuses
the very children it claims to want to protect.
Thanks to you all for being members of ATSA. I hope you have a great summer, and I look
forward to seeing many of you in Kansas City this fall.