ATSA Forum

Vol. XXVIII, No. 3
Summer 2016

Editor's Note

by Heather Moulden, Forum Editor

Welcome to the summer issue of the Forum. It is full of interesting and thought-provoking articles about the work we do and how to do it better, which I hope will prove to be enriching summer reading.

In this issue our contributors tackle some tough and at times controversial topics, including what to do about pornography use in treatment, the impact of child sexual abuse, and how to address online images of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Where I work, and for many other clinicians I speak to, the function/impact of pornography use for our clients comes up in the course of risk management and treatment. So I was quite pleased to see an article that applies theory to practice in an attempt to consider this question. In reviewing the relevant theoretical and empirical literature, we are offered an argument that is clinically informed and useful. Ron Ricci and Cheryl Clayton shared that they use this information to educate clients and colleagues about the relationship between pornography use and treatment, and it has been received positively. I hope you too will find it helpful in your own clinical practice. 

In another piece about sexual material and how to respond as a field, this issue of the Forum includes the final Leverhulme Trust sponsored online debate that took place this spring. It confronted the issue of online child exploitation and images of sexual abuse and included input from twelve contributors from three countries. This discussion provided some good information about the scope and scale of the problem as well as up to date research on risk and recidivism. It also raised some questions about how to tackle the problem given its scale, and the prioritization of scarce detection, prosecution and rehabilitation resources. Innovative projects are underway, but we learned that the response may need to be increasingly technological and collaborative given the nature of the problem.

Many of the clinical issues we confront in our work with individuals who have engaged in sexual abuse are very complex, large in scope, poorly resourced, and contentious. For these reasons, not to mention the very nature of the work itself, it is estimated that almost 40 percent of clinicians who treat individuals convicted of a sexual offence experience some form of burnout. Its likely most, if not all, of our readers have experienced burnout or vicarious trauma to some degree across their career, or have supported a colleague struggling with the impact of this work. For this reason, it’s helpful to be reminded that despite the very rewarding nature of our work, there is also some risk attached, and therefore the importance of clinician self-care. Tyffani Monford Dent offers some helpful suggestions for preventing burnout, and of course engaging with colleagues is high on the list. As ATSA members we have many avenues for support, such as the listserve, the conference, and the journal.

In their committee update piece, Robin Goldman and her colleagues wrote about ATSA chapters as a rich source of the professional support and development so important for self-care. Local meetings provide the opportunity for members within a jurisdiction to come together on issues relevant to their community. We also learn about international and multi-jurisdictional chapters as ways to connect despite small numbers.

In the Forum Survey, readers made great suggestions about frequently asked questions they would like answered. This issue Phil Rich weighs in on risk assessment for juveniles convicted of a sexual offence. In a similar vein the student column summarizes research by Eric Filleter on the impact of past sexual and physical abuse in adolescents who have committed a sexual offence.

Read on for many more informative pieces on ATSA board initiatives, the conference, elections information, educational resources, and awards. We strive to make the Forum a relevant and stimulating source of organization information, clinical wisdom, and research news. Please send me your feedback and articles so we can continue to enhance the Forum for you as readers and ATSA members. 

Heather M. Moulden
ATSA Forum Editor


President's Message

by Michael Miner, ATSA President 2016-2017

Hello from Minnesota, where it has been an amazing spring day.  I hope that this finds everyone doing well.  In the months since my last column, there have been a lot of very exciting things that have happened and are being planned.  The spring Board meeting, which was held in May, was devoted to strategic planning and a Board self-assessment.  The Board adopted the priorities and strategies presented by the Strategic Planning Committee, headed by Robin Goldman, and including Karen Baker, Maia Christopher, Maaike Helmus, Chris Labonov-Restovsky, Kelly McGrath, and Becky Palmer.  Going forward, our priorities are to: strategically diversify and grow our membership; become the organization of choice to provide evidence based education, training, implementation strategies and resources to prevent sexual abuse perpetration; effectively and proactively engage policy makers; enhance our public education presence and impact; enhance our role in comprehensive prevention of sexual abuse; and diversify our sources of income.  As you can see, these are very ambitious priorities, and the ATSA staff, Board of Directors, and standing committees will be very busy operationalizing these priorities and associated strategies to move our organization forward.

Some of the above has already begun.  ATSA provided a declaration in support of the law suit in California challenging the International Megan’s Law, and our Executive Director, Maia Christopher, recently submitted an application for a grant from the SMART office, in conjunction with the Safer Society Foundation, the Center for Sex Offender Management, and Robert McGrath.  This is the first time that ATSA has applied for a competitive grant.  This grant will fund the implementation and evaluation of sex offender treatment guidelines in three States, and if we receive this funding, positions ATSA to promulgate and provide technical support for adoption and implementation of evidence-based practice.  It will also provide infrastructure to support additional projects and funding applications.

The above are exciting efforts.  The final priority adopted by the Board involves Board development.  As you are likely aware, the Board has been incrementally reorganizing so that Regional Representatives are phased out and new positions, such as the Adult Clinical Representative, Adolescent Clinical Representative, and International Representative have been implemented.  During the next three years, these position will continue to evolve, as their respective committees develop the goals and objectives necessary to implement our strategic plan.

This is an exciting time for ATSA and I would like to encourage all of you to participate.  The election is now open and this year, we are electing the President-Elect, Juvenile Clinical Practice Representative, Adult Clinical Practice Representative, and Student Representative.  Historically, only about 16 percent of our membership participates in elections and I would like that to change.  ATSA has difficult decisions to make, and if we are to achieve our priorities, we need to move forward together, with maximal participation from all of you.  So, please take the time to acquaint yourselves with the outstanding candidates for each of the offices and cast your vote.

Finally, Kelly, Maia, and the rest of the staff are working diligently to prepare for the conference this November in Orlando.  The conference committee has put together an excellent program that promises to have wide appeal.  Have a great summer and I hope to see you all in Orlando.

Michael Miner


Are Juvenile Sexual Risk Assessment Instruments Adequate on Their Own to Assess Risk?

By Phil Rich

The question really synthesizes three essential questions:  (1) how accurately or meaningfully do these instruments estimate, or predict, sexual recidivism in sexually abusive youth, (2) beside the question of recidivism, what can these tools tell us about the young person being assessed, and (3) how and when can we best use these instruments, and for that purpose? Additionally, and as a starting point, we must also ask how well future behavior can be assessed in any person, but especially in young people who are in the very process of developmental and social change.

It’s a large question, but we can say several key things. First, in terms of being able to accurately estimate future risk, our most commonly used instruments are, at best, only partially validated. More critically, a review of the research shows inconsistent, varied, and contradictory results, and we could easily support the conjecture that, in fact, none of the instruments are empirically validated (Rich, 2014). Thus far, our instruments have not demonstrated the capacity for scientific precision or reliability (Caldwell, 2013, Fanniff & Letourneau, 2012).

Nevertheless, what the instruments can do well is identify risk factors that were present in the life of the young person at the time of the sexually abusive behavior, and those that were present then and remain active today, or the dynamic risk factors, which themselves serve as targets for treatment. In turn, this allows us to recognize the significant value of juvenile risk instruments as tools that help us to understand risk for each client, and thus build individualized treatment and case management plans (for instance, Prentky et al., 2010). Here the goal is not simply the “prediction” of future behavior but also to manage and reduce risk (Viljoen, Mordell, & Beneteau, 2012). In other words, our goal is to prevent, rather than simply “predict,” recidivism. The task is to understand the risks for each individual in “real” time so we can best manage and treat those risks, and in which assessment sets the foundation for carefully targeted treatment.

However, no matter what the strengths of the instruments, and especially in treatment planning (thus matching the principles of RNR), given their simultaneous limitations, the answer is that risk assessment instruments should be used as one part of a more comprehensive assessment of young people, nested within a larger process that gathers information about and assesses young people in multiple aspects of their lives, and across multiple domains (Caldwell & Dickinson, 2009; Colorado Department of Public Safety, 2002; Rich, 2009). Add to that the changeable and changing nature of adolescence, and the need to always pay attention to the developmental backgrounds and social contexts of adolescent behavior. For this reason, not only must risk instruments be used only as part of a more comprehensive assessment, but they should be marked over time by regular re-assessment, recognizing that the further into the future a juvenile risk assessment projects, the less likely it is to be accurate (for instance, Worling, Bookalam, & Litteljohn, 2011).


Caldwell, M. F. (2013).  Accuracy of sexually violent person assessments of juveniles adjudicated for sexual offenses. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 25, 516-526.

Caldwell, M. F., & Dickinson, C. (2009). Sex offender registration and recidivism risk in juvenile sexual offenders. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 27, 941-956.

Colorado Department of Public Safety. (2002). Colorado Sex Offender Management Board Standards and Guidelines for the Evaluation, Assessment, Treatment and Supervision of Juveniles Who Have Committed Sexual Offenses. Denver, CO: Author.

Fanniff, A. M., & Letourneau, E. J. (2012). Another piece of the puzzle: Psychometric properties of the J-SOAP-II. Journal of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 24, 378-408.

Prentky, R. A., Li, N., Righthand, S., Schuler, A., Cavanaugh, D., & Lee, A. F. (2010). Assessing risk of sexually abusive behavior among youth in a child welfare sample. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 28, 24-45.

Rich. P. (2009). Juvenile sexual offenders: A comprehensive guide to risk evaluation. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Rich, P. (2014). Chapter 4: Assessment of risk for sexual re-offense in juveniles who commit sexual offenses. In Sex Offender Management Assessment and Planning Initiative. Washington, DC: National Criminal Justice Association, Office of Justice Programs (SMART), U.S. Department of Justice.

Viljoen, J. L., Mordell, S., & Beneteau, J. L. (2012). Prediction of adolescent sexual reoffending: A meta-analysis of the J-SOAP-II, ERASOR, J-SORRAT-II, and Static-99. Law and Human Behavior, 36, 423-438.

Worling, J. R., Bookalam, D., & Litteljohn, A. (2012). Prospective validity of the Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism (ERASOR). Journal of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 24(3), 203-223.


Preventing Clinician Burnout

Tyffani Monford Dent, PsyD
Monford Dent Consulting
ATSA At-Large Representative
Interim Co-Chair, Organization & Development

The term vicarious traumatization was coined over 25 years ago to describe changes that occur within clinicians resulting from their work with clients who have experienced sexual trauma (McCann & Pearlman, 1990).  It is believed that in the process of working with sexually traumatized clients, one is hearing the trauma narratives, going through the court proceedings with the client, and in all other ways being “exposed” to the world as a place where sexual victimization occurs.  Yet, this initial description of vicarious traumatization makes it clear that it is reserved for those clinicians who provide services to victims, not those of us who work with those who have caused the sexual trauma. In recent years, researchers have begun to study secondary traumatic stress, vicarious trauma, and burnout in those working with sexual offenders (Ennis, 2004; Sorrentino, 2013).  Unfortunately within our work with those who perpetrate sexual violence, we do not often have a “back-up” person who can take our place in doing sexual offender treatment like we may in other counseling services. In such situations, we may face burnout, or what I refer to as “The joy in the work is gone” or the “I don’t care anymore.” Oftentimes, this is in conjunction with compassion fatigue related to arguing for a rational response to sexual violence in a world that operates on emotions, or trying to instill hope in clients when registration and other legislation make it nearly impossible to do so.  Although our experiences of vicarious traumatization may differ from those who provide support and treatment to victims of sexual violence, some aspects are the same.  Individuals working in this area may describe feelings of inadequacy or ineffectiveness, increased feelings of cynicism, being overwhelmed, or even compartmentalizing to the point of being disconnected. Conversely, we may become sensitized to potential risks, and may find ourselves hypervigilant as it relates to our own family. We view with anxiety every boundary violation and sexual exploration because we wonder if that will lead to sexual violence or suggests that abuse has already occurred.

Unlike work done with victims of sexual violence, society often does not want to hear about, nor do we have a place to acknowledge, the impact of working with perpetrators of sexual violence. Within our work with those who have engaged in sexual abuse, we face the judgment and emotional reactions when others hear what we do, or they may view us simply as “the sex offender lover/advocate”. We face a society that sometimes views our work with sexual offenders as unnecessary or ineffective, despite evidence to the contrary. The work done is often met with negative comments or perceptions even by those within our lives, which can increase feeling hurt, misunderstood, and disconnected (Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2007).   

So, what can those of us working with perpetrators of sexual violence do to decrease the likelihood of experiencing vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, or burnout?

Get a life and allow yourself to live it. Every waking moment of our days cannot be spent reviewing sex offender legislation, reading articles about treatment/risk, arguing on social media about the latest news headline about a sexual violence,  or even discussing the merits of what we do. We must find time away from this difficult work in order to be able to bring an energized perspective to it.

Connect with those doing the work. Working in the field of sexual offender treatment can be isolating. Developing a support system of others who are doing similar work allows for a safe space to voice concerns, doubts, and receive validation that what we are doing is important.  ATSA is a great place to foster such connections, both internationally and especially through your state chapters.

Seek consultation. When experiencing burnout and fatigue, we often lose sight of the value in the work we do and sometimes, how to do it well. Having someone to discuss treatment progress and issues can help recognize the early signs of burnout.

Mentor new clinicians. Sometimes we find that we take on more clients and do more work because there is “no one else to do it”.  By training the next generations of clinicians, we allow ourselves the opportunity to share the work. In addition, mentoring also assists us by keeping us current on what is occurring in the field as well as being exposed to the “energy” of newer clinicians which can help us maintain our own enthusiasm for this work.

Take a self-assessment. Really take the time to look at Physical Self-Care,  Psychological Self-Care,  Emotional Self-Care,  Spiritual Self-Care,  Relationship Self-Care, and  Other Areas of Self-Care that are relevant to you. Write down each of these areas and identify what you are doing in each area to keep yourself well.  After doing so, develop and implement a self-care plan and follow it. The University of Buffalo has excellent resources on their website around taking self-inventory and developing a plan ( The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also has a resource entitled Biopsychosocial-Spiritual Self-Care Plan that  addresses emotional, spiritual, physical, and social aspects of self-care that may serve as a guide for developing your own plan (

 In our work, we often provide compassion and support to clients who have engaged in behaviors that cause others to not view them as deserving of such. We must remember that, like Psychotherapist Piero Ferruci said, “It’s all really very simple. You don’t have to choose between being kind to yourself and others. It’s one and the same”.   By taking care of ourselves in the process of providing treatment to those who commit acts of sexual violence, we are providing them with a healthier, better, therapeutic process.


Ennis L. & Horne, S. (2004). Predicting psychological distress in sex offender therapists. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 15(2); 149-57.

McCann, I. L., & Pearlman, L. A. (1990). Vicarious traumatisation: A framework for understanding the psychological effects of working with victims. Journal of Traumatic Stress3, 131-149

Sorrentino, R. (2013). Criminal Law: Secondary Traumatic Stress, Vicarious Trauma and Burnout: The Hazard of Working with Sex Offenders. Bar News - January 18, 2013


A Theoretical Framework for Proscribing Pornography Viewing for Those With Sex Offense Convictions

Ronald J. Ricci, Ph.D, C.S.O.T.P.
Cheryl A. Clayton, LCSW, C.S.O.T.P.


Ronald J. Ricci

Cheryl A. Clayton

There is ongoing debate among those working with individuals who have sexually offended about the advisability of pornography viewing.  While some make the case it is a culturally-expected activity for a majority of North American men, others hold that it may lead to over-sexualized urges and aberrant sexual interest and expectations. Complicating the issue further is trying to define what constitutes pornography, a difficult if not impossible task. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said that although he could not define pornography, ‘‘he knew it when he saw it’’ (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964). Settling on a definition of pornography goes beyond the scope and utility of this article. However, as a working definition, we will be guided by Senn and Radtke’s (1990) definitions. For our purposes we are talking about not only violent pornography which as its name implies depicts acts of sexual violence for the purpose of stimulation, but also non-violent pornography which, though largely devoid of explicit violence,  still has embedded within it themes of submission and power-imbalances, degradation and objectification. This is distinguished from erotic material which we will define as material depicting mutually pleasurable sexual interactions free from any overt or covert signs of coercion, humiliation or power differentials between actors.

Research Regarding Pornography Viewing

Pornography Viewing and Sexual Aggression

There have been a number of meta-analytic studies looking at the relationship between pornography and sexual aggression (Allen, D’Alessio, & Brezgel, 1995; Allen, D’Alessio, & Emmers-Summers, 2000;  Oddone-Paolucci, Genuis, & Violato, 2000). These meta-analyses have generally supported the idea that greater exposure to violent pornography is associated with greater hostility or violence against women. This positive correlation was also found in a meta-analysis of non-experimental studies (Hald, Malamuth, & Yuen, 2010). Exposure to non-violent pornography has revealed a different picture (e.g., Donnerstein & Linz, 1998), particularly when considering effects in naturalistic as opposed to clinical research settings. There is also the ongoing debate about correlations creating spurious conclusions due to the oversight of other risk factors. For example, it is likely that those with hostile attitudes or actions towards females would be more likely to view violent pornography since it fits their world view, thus creating the time-worn “chicken-egg” conundrum. Vega and Malamuth (2007) controlled for hostility and anti-sociality in their study and found that exposure to pornography added significantly to the prediction of sexual violence among high risk males. Even so, the data are again correlational and thus cannot be used to draw causal conclusions.

Studies typically explore associations between pornography and sexually aggressive attitudes, but more recently Wright, Tokunaga, and Kraus (2016) conducted a meta-analysis to address the, perhaps more salient, question: Is pornography consumption correlated with committing actual acts of sexual aggression? For their purposes they used a broader definition of pornography to mean “media featuring nudity and explicit sexual acts designed to arouse the consumer” (p.2) which would likely include what we are referring to as erotic literature. Despite this broader definition, their analysis of twenty-two studies from seven different countries resulted in the conclusions that consumption of pornography was associated with sexual aggression regardless of the gender or age-group of the consumer, the country in which it is consumed, or the medium by which it was conveyed. They found that associations were stronger for verbally sexual aggressive behaviors than for physical sexually aggressive ones, although both were found to be significant.

Consistent with Wright’s findings, following a review of the literature regarding pornography’s influence on antisocial attitudes, sexual arousal, and sexually aggressive behavior in both noncriminal and criminal samples, Kingston, Malamuth, Fedoroff, and Marshall (2009)  found that pornography consumption may facilitate the likelihood of future sexual aggression, particularly among individuals with a predisposition for sexual offending and they recommend treatment strategies and interventions designed to mediate that problem. In contrast, Diamond, Jozifkova and Weiss (2010) took advantage of law changes in the Czech Republic to examine changes in rates of sexual crimes both before and after the legalization of viewing both adult and child pornographies. In the former the researchers found that sex crimes did not increase following the legal inclusion of pornography into their society, and in the latter they found that child sex abuse cases were fewer during the period when child pornography was considered legal. While perhaps interesting when considering the sociological or cultural impact, this does not necessarily apply to individuals with known sex offenses.

Pornography Viewing in Those Convicted of a Sexual Offense

Other research has focused more specifically on the impact of pornography viewing in those convicted of a sex offense. Pornography use, aggressive behavior, and recidivism were examined in 341 adult males convicted of child molestation (Kingston, Fedoroff, Firestone, Curry, & Bradford, 2008). Pornography use was a predictor of aggression when examined together with other risk factors (e.g., hostile masculinity and impersonal sex) for aggression. Carter, Knight, Prentky, Vanderveer, and Boucher (1987) investigated exposure to and use of pornography in a sample of 38 incarcerated rapists and 26 incarcerated child molesters. Those convicted of sexual abuse against a child reported more exposure to explicitly sexual material in adulthood and were significantly more likely to use such materials before (p < .005) and during their offenses (p < .005). Marshall (1988) conducted a comparison study of exposure to and use of “hardcore” sexually explicit material with 15 incest offenders, 51 child molesters, 23 rapists, and 24 non-offenders. Sexual materials were limited to magazines, films, or videotapes found in specialized stores or from illegal and “underground” sources. More than one third of child molesters and rapists reported using this type of pornography in pubescence compared to none of the incest offenders and 21% of the non-offenders. In a study conducted by Marshall (1988) he found that 67% of child molesters and 83% of rapists reported use of violent and non-violent pornography compared to 29% of non-offenders. Approximately one-third of each offender group credited pornography for inciting their offenses, and of those, 53% of the child molesters and 33% of the rapists reported that they deliberately used pornography in their offense planning process.

Pornography Viewing and the Pathways Model

The Pathways Model

Despite evidence supporting a proscription for pornography viewing among individuals under sex-offender supervision, the issue is far from concluded in the research and treatment communities. Rather than joining the debate of pornography effects on recidivism, we hope to offer a theory about the effects pornography consumption may have on the treatment goals of mediating deficiencies or risk factors contained in Ward and Siegert’s (2002) pathways to offending model. In developing the Pathways Model Ward and Siegert (2002) considered three of the most influential theories about underlying causes for sex offending in the extant literature, including the Precondition model of sexual abuse (Finkelhor, 1984); Quadripartite model Hall & Hirschman, 1992); and the Integrated theory (Marshall & Barbaree, 1990). These theories were then combined with psychological concepts to develop the Pathways Model. They believed that clarification of the possible underlying causes to the offending was necessary to assist therapists in developing treatment interventions to address these issues and thus reduce the likelihood of sexual re-offense. The Pathways Model is a comprehensive etiological theory that attempts to explain child sexual abuse by considering dysfunctional mechanisms in four cluster areas: (a) intimacy deficits, (b) emotional dysregulation, (c) distorted sexual scripts, (d) antisocial or criminal attitudes and behaviors, and (e) multiple mechanisms. The dysfunctional mechanisms are theorized to be forged, at least in part, by idiosyncratic developmental influences which create predisposition and vulnerability factors to sexual offending which, when conjoined with situational triggers, result in sexual aggression. For example, an offender encountering a vulnerable other (e.g., woman, child) and who holds antisocial views regarding the rights and boundaries of others may sexually abuse the vulnerable other out of an implicitly held sense of entitlement. An offender who has distorted implicit views about children’s sexuality and children’s rights in relation to adults may satisfy his own disrupted affective state, for example, when rejected by an adult partner, by using a child to do so.

The Interplay Between the Pathways Model and Pornography Viewing

There are four commonly known pathways to sexual offending. Those who have sexually offended may have followed one, two, or even all of these. Within the Pathways Model treatment focuses on exploring and addressing the dynamics that contribute to these pathways, and restructuring or replacing these problematic dynamics with adaptive responses and strategies. We offer the following theory as a brief description of the nexus between the offense pathway and pornography use and the negative impact pornography viewing may have on the stated treatment goals:

Intimacy Deficits:  Many individuals offend in an effort to meet their intimacy and relational needs. The offense becomes a substitute for this basic human need which, in varying degrees, exists and must be met in all humans. Forging relationships with human beings is difficult even for those who have that facility. When hampered by social skill or self-confidence deficits, it becomes even more difficult. Use of pornography relieves the pressure (in the short-term) by substituting real human relatedness with fantasy relatedness, and can temporarily satisfy both sexual and interpersonal needs, albeit ineffectively. Use of pornography to satisfy those needs is what is known as a maladaptive coping skill, and can also be considered a mis-regulated strategy to try to meet those needs. As an example, if a male partner anticipates criticism or judgment by his female sexual partner, he may rely on pornography to fill that relational void. The pornography may be perceived as less difficult and less judgmental than the human partner, and provides opportunity for full control (i.e., when I’m done, or when it gets boring or uncomfortable I can turn it off immediately). By relying on this method to meet his relatedness needs, the offender impedes the motivation to put in the harder work of establishing and maintaining an intimate relationship (including friendships) and further erodes his adaptive interpersonal skills through lack of rehearsal.

Emotional Dysregulation: Many offenders (like many non-offenders) have a difficult time regulating their emotions. They may lack the ability to tolerate frustration, or lack skills to adaptively manage the emotional ups and downs of daily living. While substances is a well-known maladaptive remedy to try to manage this, sex is another maladaptive strategy as it can provide a powerful feel feeling of pleasure, a temporary diversion, a feeling of power, and the perception of quick resolution to problems, among other things. As the individual comes to rely on this maladaptive strategy (of masturbation, casual sex, erotic dancers, pornography use, etc.) he again becomes less likely to learn and practice adaptive coping responses, and similar to the intimacy deficits above, over time, he becomes less and less adept at self-management and self-regulation.

Distorted/Deviant Sexual Scripts: This is the first of the two primary pathways to offending. Viewing pornography and miring oneself in that fantasy world reinforces and normalizes the distorted and unrealistic ideas about sex, self, gender roles, entitlement, etc. Similar to alcohol use, these distortions can be effectively managed by the majority of the population. However, normalizing and even bolstering these distorted beliefs and deviant ideas through pornography viewing tends to work against the difficult work that those who committed a sexual offense have to restructure and/or redefine those offense-supportive views.

Anti-social/Criminal Thinking:  This is the second of the two primary pathways to offending. One foundational belief in criminal thinking is a sense of entitlement. Another is a belief that the world is devised of aggressors and victims, and if a person is not one, then he will be the other. Another foundational belief is that people are objects to be used in order to get what one wants (entitlement). Finally, a belief is that only fools wait, plan and work for what they want (read: low frustration tolerance). Pornography by design uses these themes to promote a fantasy world of desirability, power, accomplishment and adequacy, and easy access to what one wants without effort or frustration. For those who struggle with these beliefs the viewing of pornography reinforces these distorted ideas and normalizes it to a degree that it not only makes restructuring and replacing them more difficult, it removes motivation to do so given the support one feels by the “billions” of pornography users (e.g., “all men watch pornography so it’s normal and non-harmful”).

Finally, the self-regulation model of sex-offending identifies mis-regulated strategies that some offenders who had hoped to avoid sexually offending employed without success. The classic example is the step-father who becomes sexually aroused by his step-daughter, but tells himself that there is no harm in masturbating to thoughts about her as long as she does not know it. He believes he is engaging in a practice which will help him manage his arousal urges and keep him from offending, however what he is likely engaging in is a rehearsal in which he habituates to the idea of sexual contact with her, which over time becomes less repellent, and more desirable to him. Eventually he may begin to (overtly or covertly) set up discussions and situations where he can begin to “test the waters” as he moves ever closer to the offense. The treatment goals for these clients are to replace the mis-regulated strategy they previously employed with regulated and effective strategies to maintain their non-offending goal. Pornography is another common mis-regulated strategy that can easily back-fire.  


Albeit equifinal depending on one’s therapeutic orientation, it is widely accepted that a primary goal of sex offender treatment is to mitigate factors contributing to sexual re-offense. Clients are encouraged to identify, develop and consistently apply adaptive coping skills and means to seek and meet basic human needs. We suggest that pornography viewing interferes with that goal and also with the clients’ ability to mediate deficiencies or risk factors theorized to be pathways to sexual offending. While many argue that since pornography viewing is considered commonplace and non-deviant among the general population, it should likewise be permissible (or even advisable) for individuals who have sexually offended. We have attempted herein to outline a theoretical frame to demonstrate how pornography viewing impedes the healthy development or restructuring of interpersonal intimacy, pro-social sexual scripts, and functional emotional regulation. We also suggest that subscribing to the themes embedded overtly or covertly in most forms of pornography (as defined here) supports or fosters the distorted views typically associated with a criminal pathway to sexual offending. Given the ways in which pornography viewing interferes with the clients’ ability to successfully redress his offense pathway(s), it is our view that supporting clients in avoiding pornography from both a supervision and a treatment standpoint can create a therapeutic space in which motivated clients may make meaningful and lasting change.


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Allen, M., D’Alessio, D., & Emmers-Sommers, T. M. (2000). Reactions of criminal sexual offenders to pornography: A meta-analytic summary. In M. Roloff (Ed.), Communication Yearbook 22 (pp.139-169). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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Hall, G. C. N. & Hirschman, R. (1992). Sexual aggression against children: A conceptual perspective of etiology. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 19, 8-23.

Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964)

Kingston, D. A., Fedoroff, P., Firestone, P., Curry, S., & Bradford, J. M. (2008). Pornography use and sexual aggression: The impact of frequency and type of pornography use on recidivism among sexual offenders. Aggressive Behavior, 34, 341–351.

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Online Debate 5: Developing a worldly understanding of sexual offenders and their management

By Kieran McCartan

What follows is the transcript of the fifth online debate, titled “Developing a worldly understanding of sexual offenders and their management” which occurred as part of The Leverhulme Trust funded Community Engagement and Partnership Working with Sexual Offenders International Network. This network is a collaboration of seven academics from six universities across five countries. We also have a number of national and international partners. It is an international partnership, designed to engage practitioners, academics and policy makers on issues of sexual offender risk management and public protection. The network is also committed to public and societal education on issues of sexual offender etiology, offending, management and reintegration.

This represents the fifth of six discussions scheduled to take place throughout 2014 - 16 to examine community engagement and partnership working with sexual offenders. The debates are a series of discussions between invited practitioners, academics and relevant parties on a variety of issues relating to sexual offender management and reintegration. All of the debates will be published in the ATSA Forum as well as on the international networks website:

The aim of the current debate is to discuss streamlining and articulating an accessible public health approach to sexual violence. The debate included below occurred over a two -week period in April 2016, through an online social networking site.

Twelve participants from 3 countries (UK, USA, and Canada) agreed to participate in the debate. They were invited to take part because of their interest and expertise in this area. The participants were selected from academic backgrounds and practitioner groups. All participants are identified below only via the institutions or organisations on whose behalf they spoke:

- Participant 1: A representative from Internet Watch Foundation, UK. IWF

- Participant 2: Professor Criminology and Criminal Justice, DMU, UK. DMU

- Participant 3: Professor in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of                 Massachusetts, Lowell, USA. UoML

- Participant 4: Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, ‎McMaster University, Canada. McM 1

- Participant 5:  Adjunct Professor in Psychiatry, McMaster University, Canada. McM 2

- Participant 6: Postdoctoral Fellow, Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, University of      Ottawa, Canada. UoO

- Participant 7: Research psychologist, School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork,        UK. UCC

- Participant 8: Associate Professor in Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada. UoO

- Participant 9: Associate Professor in Criminology, UWE, UK. UWE

- Participant 10: Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, ‎McMaster University, Canada. McM 3

- Participant 11: Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Hull, UK. UoH

- Participant 12: Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Lincoln, UK. UoL

The debate below is a faithful representation of what was said, nothing has been otherwise altered (except in a very few places where minor adjustments were made for clarity and the removal of identifying features/comments —Editor). The format includes an opening statement, in this case by the representative from IWF, followed by an open discussion including all participants, and the debate is then summarised. Readers are reminded that this was originally an online discussion, and that grammar, etc. were of lesser importance in favour of free expression of thought and opinion.


Dear Participants,

Welcome to the online debate on developing a ‘worldly’ understanding of sexual offenders and their management.

It goes without saying that this topic covers a wide range of areas in terms of the actual offences, the management of offenders or the potential prevention efforts.

Previous online debates already provided valuable information on various aspects of offender management and I hope this session will contribute to the broader discussion by identifying examples of recent developments in sexual offending as well as potential new approaches or initiatives for offender management.

In order to keep this discussion focussed - and also to address an issue that perhaps hasn’t been addressed sufficiently in the other online debates - I would like to suggest to mainly focus on the increasing importance of cyberspace in sexual offending, in particular in relation to online child sexual abuse and online child sexual exploitation.

I will start the debate by introducing the work of the Internet Watch Foundation, the UK hotline for reporting online child sexual abuse imagery and by raising a couple of questions in relation to online offender management. You are of course free to provide your answers to these questions, to share your expertise in other areas or to address the wider topic of this online debate.

As regards the work of the Internet Watch Foundation, their team of analysts encountered 31,266 webpages depicting child sexual abuse imagery in 2014. These webpages typically include images of children under the age of 10 (80% of the webpages) and often depict the highest level of abuse, including rape and sexual torture (43% of the webpages) (

The IWF works closely with UK law enforcement and the online industry to disrupt the availability of indecent images and videos of children, and is constantly working to develop new tools to find and remove these images as quickly as possible. It works with partners globally to achieve this, as only 0.3% of the webpages the IWF encounters are actually hosted in the United Kingdom.

Besides the physical abuse of the child, it is an offence to take, permit to be taken, make, possess, show, distribute or advertise indecent images of children. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command mentioned in their threat assessment of 2012 that in the United Kingdom around 50,000 individuals were downloading and sharing indecent images of children. (CEOP Threat Assessment of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse – June 2013).

The data above shows that the online dimension of sexual offending provides us with a specific set of challenges in relation to sexual offences and offender management.

-          How do we deal with the volume of people accessing online child sexual abuse material? Can we (should we?) prioritise high risk offenders within the wider group of offenders? Are existing threat assessments adequate? Is there enough information/research regarding the potential transition from online to offline abuse?

-          What should the response be towards the offenders? Is it possible to arrest all offenders or should alternative initiatives be explored? And if so, what could these initiatives look like?

-          What is the role of prevention and support for potential offenders? Organisations like ‘The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’ in the United Kingdom provide access to appropriate sources of support and intervention to help potential offenders manage their thoughts and behaviour and to assist them to live responsible, fulfilling and law-abiding lives.

-          Is the legal framework adequate and up-to-date to deal with the various aspects of the problem, for instance in relation to young people (children) sending or possessing sexually explicit images of themselves or their partner?

The introduction above provides only a snapshot of some of the issues that could be discussed in our online debate.  I would like to invite you to share your views on the overall issue of online sexual abuse and offender management as well as to share more detailed information about areas in which you might be involved or have additional expertise.


Thank you IWF for a very important introductory posting to this critical issue.  I will have an initial go at addressing some of the questions below:

- How do we deal with the volume of people accessing online child sexual abuse material? Can we (should we?) prioritise high risk offenders within the wider group of offenders? Are existing threat assessments adequate? Is there enough information/research regarding the potential transition from online to offline abuse?

Certainly UK police and probation services are concerned about how to address the sheer volume of internet offending, but also with how to identify those most likely to go on to commit contact offences.  I think there are some concerns/cautions about this and some positives.  The concerns/cautions first:

1. The distinction between internet and contact offending can be somewhat artificial- a contact crime has occurred to enable filming, some of it gross and terribly harmful.  Can we within this identify high risk offenders?  To some extent this can be done by targeting those who have used the most serious images, who have the greatest volume and frequency of use.  But in a sense this relies on existing knowledge of their pattern of use, and can work for those about whom we have existing knowledge of their offending pattern.

2.Can we identify those who will use internet offending to lead into contact offending within their own lives?  There is some potential here and an emerging evidence base.  For example, the “Fighting International Internet Paedophilia (FIIP) Project” which is led by Prof Laurence Alison at Liverpool University.  They have produced in collaboration with Kent Police the “Kent Internet Risk Assessment Tool (KIRAT) (Version 2)” which is being piloted by a number of English police forces.  Based on early evidence it appears to have a good predictive rate about those who do go onto commit contact sexual offences.  The Tool assists in prioritizing offenders for interventions and guides the management levels applied to them by police, probation and MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements).  Further information can be obtained from the Child Exploitation Investigation Team and Kent Police and on or:

There is a strong commitment to evaluation of the tool and revision over time, and it appears to provide a very good starting point in this challenging area.  Do people have experience of other tools or other research in this area?

- What should the response be towards the offenders? Is it possible to arrest all offenders or should alternative initiatives be explored? And if so, what could these initiatives look like?

We cannot assume that the criminal justice route is the only option for this number of offenders, particularly at the lower risk end.  What else can we do?  Projects such as Dunkenfeld in Germany offer an alternative, encouraging offenders and potential offenders to seek treatment.  Lucy Faithfull was mentioned by IWF, and Helplines are important, but so are the treatment and interventions to back it up.  At present we know that many who use such Helplines remain untreated and unhelped.

- What is the role of prevention and support for potential offenders? Organisations like ‘The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’ in the United Kingdom provide access to appropriate sources of support and intervention to help potential offenders manage their thoughts and behaviour and to assist them to live responsible, fulfilling and law-abiding lives.

Prevention needs to have a greater public policy and political commitment than it has enjoyed up to yet.  The evidence base for treating sexual offending as a Public Health issue is now robust enough to support such a change. The issue is, who is brave enough to lead such a change in attitudes, responses and policy?

- Is the legal framework adequate and up-to-date to deal with the various aspects of the problem, for instance in relation to young people (children) sending or possessing sexually explicit images of themselves or their partner?

I am not sure about our legal framework in this respect.  We are generally punitive and exclusionary, especially about sexual offenders including young ones.  Sentencing, despite some claims to the contrary, is not particularly well designed to rehabilitate, change or treat people.  Part of the issue here is about what we think is a crime, acceptable or unacceptable behaviour, and acceptable or unacceptable risks and harms.  This differs across society and is changeable over time: ‘sexting’ is a good example of this.


I am wondering whether the estimates of the number of websites with child sexual abuse content (31,266) provided here include websites located not on the traditional internet but rather on the Darknet? If not, the problem is much bigger than these estimates indicate. With the move to the Darknet, the monitoring, prevention and control strategies that will be needed have to change. New technology = new criminal opportunity.


On the Dark Web, contributors may be interested in a one-day event entitled: "Glimpse into the Dark Web: Understanding Online predators, grooming, sexualisation and radicalisation” information at: with key speakers including Jamie Bartlett author of "Dark Net".


Thank-you IWF for introducing this important topic. As with other types of sexual abuse, online or internet offenders as a term describes a host of behaviours - the abuse, filming, posting, dissemination, access, downloading, sharing etc. I suspect that there are different, albeit overlapping motivations and risks associated with these constellations of behaviour, which as has been pointed out, requires quite a diverse response. This is not just about treating the individual who has accessed and viewed the images, or even prevention of future contact offenders (although as DMU points out this is certainly the risk we see and thus can intervene upon). But as UoML pointed out finding and removing images, and obviously preventing/discouraging access in the first place are means of disrupting the market for such images (this has its own challenges).

In Canada, Michael Seto has developed the CPORT - a risk tool for individuals accessing child sexual abuse images. Although not used clinically yet, it shows great promise as an actuarial instrument for distinguishing risks among this group of offenders. Including items about the offenders, the nature of the images, etc.

I'm wondering if we are also considering individuals who use the internet for sexual interaction with young people - such as chats or message boards. Some are certainly exploring means of accessing victims for contact offences, but there appears to be another group who seek out and use exchanges for stimulation, with no apparent interest in further contact. However, we don't know much about these individuals, as unlike images on a hard drive, message posting etc. are usually not accessed or included as part of investigations.

McM 2

Generally, I think we can all agree that the advent of the internet was a monumental leap forward in our social evolution. The world wide web has contributed to greater understanding of so many things, and has definitely made the world a lot smaller. However, in our own inimitable fashion, Homo Sapiens can't seem to do anything amazing without finding a way to muck it up.

When I was Kurt Freund's assistant all those many, many years ago (context is important here), I was tasked with finding realistic stimuli for use in phallometric testing. This resulted in me making "friends" (so to speak) with members of Joint Forces Project "P" - a collaboration of the RCMP, Ontario Provincial Police, and Metro Toronto Police. They were the clearinghouse for all of the "pornographic" materials seized by law enforcement. We were most interested in the child abuse images and torture materials - for use in sexual psychodiagnostics. However, most things were in Super 8, Polaroid, or poorly transferred VHS. We came away with some usable stuff but, generally, most materials were of such poor quality that they were unusable - at least in a scientific/clinical milieu.

Scoot ahead some 25 years and pretty near anyone with an internet connection (even on a watch!!) can find and download high quality child abuse images and all sorts of other nefarious and deviant materials, in a heartbeat. I'm pretty sure this is not what Al Gore envisaged when he "created" the internet (insert smiley face here). There is so much pain and suffering on the web that it screams out for better controls and monitoring - but, at what costs?

The ability and freedom to post, peruse, and comment on virtually any topic with virtually any person anytime and anywhere in the world is a miracle of human ingenuity.

I'm very, very interested to see where this discussion goes, as we debate such fundamental human rights as freedom and safety in the vast and often controversial sphere of the world wide web. How do we achieve both interests? Can we achieve both interests?

Thanks for your challenging questions, IWF. Let's see what we do with this...


Based on previous posts, here are some broad statements regarding risk to reoffend of users of child sexual abuse material (I am happy to share the referenced studies):

1.       Users of child sexual abuse material (CSEM) are a low risk for future contact sexual offences (and especially with only CSEM offences; see Babchishin, Hanson, & Vanzuylen, 2015: Seto, Hanson & Babchishin, 2011).

2.       Despite low base rate of contact sexual reoffending (about 0.2% for CSEM only offenders [that is no contact sex offence, excludes those who committed a contact sex offence to create CSEM] and 6% for those with both CSEM and contact offences after 5 years; Graf & Dittmann, 2011), these offenders do differ on their risk to commit a contact sexual offence. Luckily, risk factors have been identified to rank order child pornography offenders in terms of risk to reoffend (Seto, 2013; Seto & Eke, 2015). (Mixed offenders could be up to half of convicted users of CSEM; Seto et al., 2011).

3.       The major risk factors for any sexual recidivism among CSEM users (these studies included both CSEM only offenders and mixed offenders with both CSEM and contact offences) are related to general criminality, such as young age, prior violent offenses, juvenile record, and prior criminal history (Seto & Eke, 2015). The content of the child pornography collection also provides information about the likelihood of recidivism; specifically, the ratio of boy to girl content (Eke & Seto, 2012: Seto & Eke, 2015). Opportunity also matters. Motivated offenders with access to children are most likely to sexually assault children whereas pedophilic offenders who frequently use computers are most likely to view child pornography (Babchishin et al., 2015).

4.       Static risk tools have been modified (e.g., the Risk Matrix-2000), but do not do a good job at rank orders CSEM only offenders (available studies suggest they do well with the mixed offenders, those with both CSEM and contact sex offences).

5.       Dynamic risk tools (e.g., STABLE-2000) seem to do a much better job for CSEM-only offenders. For mixed offenders, risk tools do well for rank ordering offenders. Indeed, risk tools do not need to be modified for mixed offenders with an official history of a contact sexual offence (e.g., Static-99R)

6.       The CPORT was found to predict any sexual recidivism, contact sexual recidivism, and any recidivism after the 5-year follow-up. Unfortunately, although it predicted for the subgroup of child pornography-only offenders, it did a poorer job with mixed offenders (AUC of .69 vs. AUC of .80). Also, the CPORT did not predict recidivism among child pornography offenders who had no other criminal history (i.e., first-time offenders). Currently, the CPORT seems to be a promising tool, but requires cross-validation. The authors have drafted coding rules for interested clinicians.

7.       For CSEM only offenders, dynamic risk tools may provide more promising results (given it is not dependent on criminal history variables for which many CSEM users may be missing). We need more research on that front.

So who would be at risk for cross-over offences (i.e., going from a CSEM to a mixed offender)?  The literature suggests that those that pose a higher risk for cross over offences would be expected to have high levels of pedophilia, high levels of antisociality, have access to children, and have few psychological barriers to committing a sexual offence. Conversely, CSEM offenders would be expected to be low risk for contact sex offences if they score low on measures of general antisociality, have limited access to children, and have psychological barriers to committing contact sexual offences. As a default, CSEM-only offenders should be assumed to be very low risk to reoffend with a contact sexual offence. Proven risk factors (e.g., greater antisocial traits, greater criminal history, younger age) would be needed to justify a higher risk for a child pornography-only offender. This subsample of CSEM users could be targeted for alternative responses (IWF and posts).


Just some supplementary comments on UoO's response to IWF's questions:

1) The requirement for prioritization of online offenders for intervention is not ideal, but in the current climate, with many thousands of offenders in online circulation and readily identifiable to law enforcement, it is absolutely necessary. UoO has already rehearsed the requirement for prioritization at the level of law enforcement.  To my mind, effective prioritization of those more likely to contact offend / with recidivistic potential at this juncture is critical, as it is largely here that important, first-time decisions are made to select offenders for criminal justice intervention and latter inclusion within secondary prevention systems. This factor, coupled with limited resources, a paucity of alternative interventions, etc. makes effective investigative targeting of such cases all the more imperative. 

I think it's essential to prioritize higher-risk offenders and to make other informed policy decisions, e.g., prioritizing production cases (which necessarily involve exploitation/abuse of a child) and active distribution (traders) over passive distribution (e.g., making files available on peer-to-peer networks) and receipt/possession alone.

Absolutely. Re the identification of production cases (and the role of technology in supporting same), I would just like to mention a software I was involved in developing - the iCOP toolkit - developed with European Commission funding support. Unlike other technologies which rely on databases of known CSE images/video to identify new cases of CSEM offending, this technology allows for the identification of new CSE material that has not previously been seized or hashed using solutions like Photo DNA. This ability allows law enforcement to identify new images/video not yet known to them, thereby supporting the identification of production cases. You can read more about it here:

I absolutely agree with the point re the prioritization of active vs. passive traders of CSEM. UoO's point speaks to a more fundamental need to better understand the mediating influence of technology on online offending behavior and to accommodate this mediating influence in risk profiling or assessment with online offender populations. At the level of investigating law enforcement, there is a definite requirement for more discriminating risk profiling (not "risk assessment" :) ) systems that allow for the identification of high risk cases in online investigations. A critical feature of any risk profiling in online investigation is the identification of volitional behaviors, where the behavior you see online reflects the actual motivation or intent of the user. This is not easy with online behaviours in CSEM users. Very often the technology used by the offender to enable their trading or other offending interferes with the behavioral presentation and can undermine the quality of the assumptions investigators (and others) can make about the motivation/intent of the offender. For example, users of Peer to peer systems may download many CSEM files from Peer to peer, but this 'behavior' tends to be affected by the design of P2P systems, which require users to download files based on a reading of their filename before they can be viewed. Therefore users may download many files of different sexual genres in order to locate material that appeals to their actual sexual interest, with the effect that their sexual interest is only in a subset of what they actually download. This affects the quality of the assumptions we can make about an individual offender's sexual deviance / risk based on the number or type of downloaded files we find in their possession. We urgently need more empirical work to understand the mediating influence of technology on online behavior, to help us to differentiate online behaviors that can be reliably used for profiling and risk appraisal, and thus build better case prioritization systems for investigative use.

Regarding other risk profiling/case prioritization tools for use in law enforcement investigations: Under the iCOP project we have developed a risk profiling methodology for use by investigators that profiles sexual deviance (paraphilia) in users of Peer to peer systems, as a basis for case prioritization decisions. Here, CSEM offenders on Peer to peer systems are prioritized to the online investigator based on the identification of a problematic profile of sexual deviance (paraphilic interest) in their peer to peer searches. The search behaviors of P2P users (i.e. user searches using CSEM related keywords) proved to be a useful behavioral indicator for risk profiling purposes, as it is here that the user directly betrays their sexual interests and motivations. Once validated, this system will be embedded within Peer to peer monitoring technologies used by investigating law enforcement as a case prioritization support.

3) Another Thorn project uses decoy files placed on known sites/networks for distributing child exploitation content. Instead of seeing the image, the user instead gets a warning reminding them that the behavior is illegal, that they could be tracked, and pointing them to resources from Stop It Now! to get help.

UoO and others, are you aware of any work to evaluate this, or similar initiatives?  I'm not making any assumptions around this Thorn-supported intervention (Thorn is an exemplary NGO, as are its projects) but there are other online initiatives like this (e.g. police/search engine use of splash pages or pop up warnings as deterrents/interventions) which may be helping, but we have insufficient empirical understanding of their efficacy vis a vis prevention or desistance. If you are aware of anything, it would be really interesting to learn more about it. I guess the point here is that we need better empirical evaluation of the efficacy of these online interventions for CSEM offence prevention/desistence.


Following up on the last comment by UoO, I have suggested in my work that policies and practices will need to evolve to respond to three overlapping groups of offenders: contact sex offenders against children, the group we know the most about; CSEM offenders, some of whom have committed contact offenses and/or online grooming offenses; and online grooming offenders, again some of whom may have committed contact or CSEM offenses.

There are differences in pedophilia, antisociality, opportunity (access to children) and other psychological factors. For example, few online grooming offenders are likely to be pedophiles given they are mostly targeting young adolescents.

Responding to the original questions from IWF:

(1) How do we deal with the volume of people accessing online child sexual abuse material? Can we (should we?) prioritise high risk offenders within the wider group of offenders? Are existing threat assessments adequate? Is there enough information/research regarding the potential transition from online to offline abuse?

To me, the sheer numbers of individuals involved makes it clear that a purely criminal justice response (arrest & prosecution) is not enough on its own. As I heard a high-ranking prosecutor say in the US (a nation that is not shy of a heavy hand in criminal justice): "We can't arrest our way out of this problem."

I think it's essential to prioritize higher-risk offenders and to make other informed policy decisions, e.g., prioritizing production cases (which necessarily involve exploitation/abuse of a child) and active distribution (traders) over passive distribution (e.g., making files available on peer-to-peer networks) and receipt/possession alone.

Following up on a comment by DMU, I would emphasize that the KIRAT is *not* a risk assessment tool in the sense that I understand it, despite it being part of the name. The KIRAT identifies factors that distinguish online-only offenders from dual offenders who have committed both online and contact offenses *at point of police contact*. That is useful in prioritizing cases that involve current or past contact offending, but it is not the same as determining who is at greater risk of contact offending in the future (though it is true that dual offenders are higher risk than online-only offenders). As we reported in our 2011 meta-analysis, the sexual contact recidivism rate of online offenders is lower than for contact offenders, but of course some do go on to sexually reoffend, either with another online offense or a contact offense.

To assess risk of contact offending in the future, we need a prospective risk assessment tool. There is some preliminary evidence for the use of a modified Risk Matrix 2000, a standard risk assessment tool in the UK (but not Canada or the United States) and for the Child Pornography Offender Risk Tool (validated in Canada only so far).

 (2) What should the response be towards the offenders? Is it possible to arrest all offenders or should alternative initiatives be explored? And if so, what could these initiatives look like?

The criminal justice system does not have the capacity to investigate, much less arrest and prosecute and sentence, all online offenders. To me, this is a strong argument for investing more in prevention and for efforts to reduce demand. There is a strong analogy, to me, between the current "war on online offending" and the failed "war on drugs" in terms of prioritizing production/distribution over possession and in terms of recognizing that treatment and criminal justice alternatives were needed for users.

(3) What is the role of prevention and support for potential offenders? Organisations like ‘The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’ in the United Kingdom provide access to appropriate sources of support and intervention to help potential offenders manage their thoughts and behaviour and to assist them to live responsible, fulfilling and law-abiding lives.

I think the prevention efforts of organizations such as Stop It Now!, Dunkelfeld, the Lucy Faithfull (e.g., it's revamped website) are important avenues to pursue.

I also believe that, just as technology has facilitated the access and exchange of child exploitation materials (child pornography in legal terms), technology can also play a role in intervention. I am the pro bono scientific advisor to a non-profit organization based in the US, the Thorn Foundation (previously DNA Foundation) that was founded by actors Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher to pursue technological responses to the problem of online sexual exploitation.

The Thorn Foundation has been involved in efforts such as the adoption of photoDNA to automatically check uploaded images to known child exploitation images from a database maintained by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. This technology was developed by Microsoft in collaboration with Boston College and is now used by major platforms such as Facebook. Uploading a known child exploitation results in suspension of an account and notification of police. Wide-spread adoption of this technology -- and new technology that is being worked on to do the same for video -- could have a dramatic effect on availability of content.

Another Thorn project uses decoy files placed on known sites/networks for distributing child exploitation content. Instead of seeing the image, the user instead gets a warning reminding them that the behavior is illegal, that they could be tracked, and pointing them to resources from Stop It Now! to get help.


I agree that the scale and nature of the sharing as well as downloading of Child Sexual Abuse imagery has up-scaled immensely since the advent of the internet, the real question [for me], building on IWFs and other comments here, is how we respond to it? I think that looking at downloading Child Sexual Abuse imagery as a potential warning sign and opportunity for an early intervention [secondary prevention, if you will], but the question is how we facilitate that - through a health response [programmes, doctors referrals, community nursing, online treatment/management programmes], a criminal justice response or a combination of both? Who will reach out and what will that look like? I think that there is a real opportunity to do something proactive here.

In respect to the 'dark web', I think that this brings us back to the roles and responsibilities of governments as well as internet service providers. Given the international complexity of running and managing the internet [epically in terms of where material is hosted and routed through] we have to get better at multi-national/multi-corporation working and agreements. But who should set up and intervene, the UN, multi-national corporations. This is such a challenging issue, I think that it has more to do with international relations and politics than child protection [as harsh as that sounds].

My question is - how do we reach out and what is the best way to do that?


I am of the view that technology has helped create this problem of online sexual exploitation and abuse, and technology is needed to respond effectively to this problem. I don't think technology alone will do it, and have argued for a multi-prong approach that includes technology, prevention efforts through the health and social service systems, as well as criminal justice. But the challenges for health, social and criminal justice is scale. Even with massive increases in funding -- unlikely but one can always hope -- online services, community programs etc. can only reach a small fraction of perpetrators, and even then they will mostly reach those who are already motivated to seek help. There are many others who won't be reached, who aren't motivated to seek help or are interested but afraid to identify themselves in even the slightest way.

Part of the technology response involves the complexities of engaging in international law, national policies, and the big corporations. I don't think we have to re-invent the wheel here as the international communities have managed to get their act together -- to some extent -- in responding to previous global issues such as climate change.

Here's an example of what I mean about technology and its potential for scale and reach:

photoDNA is a software program created by coders at Boston College with the support of Microsoft. It can automatically compare any image, without human involvement, against the database of known child exploitation images kept by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US. The software goes beyond simple hash matching because it can detect matches even if users change file properties such as size, filename, cropping etc.

This software is freely available and has been adopted by Facebook and other major companies. This means anyone trying to upload known child exploitation images to Facebook -- one sneaky way of sharing large batches of images -- will have that account suspended and the pertinent information sent to NCMEC.

Imagine the impact on access and distribution of child exploitation images if every photo-sharing site -- or even better, all major ISPs -- implemented photoDNA. It won't catch the uploading and access of previously unknown images, but analyses of collections seized from perpetrators tells us that the majority of content is already known to NCMEC.

photoDNA could be promoted as "corporate responsibility" across photo-sharing sites and ISPs; it could be expanded by linking (overlapping) databases of known images kept by the RCMP in Canada, CEOP in the UK, Interpol etc. I know that Microsoft is working on a videoDNA (much harder tech problem). 

I think of photoDNA and similar software as the equivalent of situational crime prevention. Irrespective of perpetrator motivation, online or offline prevention and intervention resources, policing etc, wide implementation of this software could have a really big impact.

McM 3

Thank you very much for giving the opportunity to participate to this discussion.

Regarding the aspects of policies and practices mentioned by UoO, I find that the law does not always fit into the clinical finding. As an exemple, in the French law, if someone is charged for possessing child pornography but can prove that the teenager on the image is in fact an adult dressed as a minor, the individual will not be convicted (of course this is certainly difficult to prove anything because of the fact that the images travel around the world).

McM 1

I agree with UWE that because of the nature of the internet a multi-national approach is needed. Where the abuse occurs, where it is uploaded, and where it is downloaded could easily cross multiple jurisdictions. And unless there is a coordinated investigation with appropriate sharing and access we will always see fragmented management.

My other thought is that more needs to be done at the uploading stage. There has been lots of attention to how to assess, treat and manage those who possess the images, I think because that is often who is easiest to detect and prosecute. However, the source abuse and uploading continues with impunity. Governments put lots of resources into developing technology for monitoring other types of criminal activity or threats to state. Perhaps this could be adapted for file sharing sites etc.

There has been discussion on the ATSA listserve about peer to peer (youth) sharing of sexual images of themselves and how this differs or ought to differ from child sexual abuse images. Just as the response for peer sexual behaviour does not come from the courts, but from parents or other responsible adults, should CSAI not be distinguished the same way?


This is already really interesting, so thanks for including me.

This is a monumental problem for all countries and I'm afraid I don't have any solutions. A police officer told me a few months ago that new technology in the UK had enabled the police to track over 25,000 potential internet offenders in the UK. The police are currently doing nothing about it as they simply don't have the resources - this applies to police, court time and prison spaces. We clearly therefore need to prioritise who we concentrate our scarce resources on. I agree with others that we should focus on those that make and then distribute but as we all know this is not easy, especially when we are talking about the WORLD wide web.

I think we should differentiate between imagery of child abuse and young people sexting. While there are problems with the latter I certainly don't class these people as sex offenders and would not in any way want them labelled as such. For this we need to educate our children about the risks and dangers of this type of activity.


I think this point is worth emphasizing, this is not a problem that police, community programs etc can fully address because of scale. I recognize that criminal justice, health and social responses are also needed, and ideally coordinated, but I think the scale of the problem -- a result of online technologies -- requires a similarly scalable tech response.


I have read the posts with great interest, and followed the debate that is developing. UoO and UoO have responded in detail regarding the current (empirical/theoretical) knowledge concerning CSEM users, especially concerning their risk levels; in response to this, I like to share some of the (controversial?) questions that are currently on the research agenda.

1. Through working with the UK police and community treatment centres, such as the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, I can see the systemic consequences following from the large numbers of online offenders; especially with regards to policing, this requires an attention and resource demand that is very difficult to meet, and my feeling is that there is a (a slow but steady) move towards early interventions, maybe one day similar to the model proposed by the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld in Germany who offer confidential advice to individuals with a self-identified interest in children. We had a debate at the NOTA conference two years ago if such a model could/would work in the UK - and a very strong discussion emerged. It would be great to know if other countries have similar/ different prevention models and how others in this network consider their value and societal impact.

2. To qUoOe the previous post: "Users of child sexual abuse material (CSEM) are a low risk for future contact sexual offences (and especially with only CSEM offences; see Babchishin, Hanson, & Vanzuylen, 2015: Seto, Hanson & Babchishin, 2011)" - could this be understood as an argument to introduce a less resource-demanding penalty (such as fines) rather than treatment for CSEM users, and to focus these resources on reoffenders? The psychological literature has been challenged as to "neglecting the victim perspective" and I wonder how my colleagues combine these positions?

3. How should the use of CSEM be considered in child custody evaluations? There is a debate in the psychological literature if and how the use of CSEM is linked to a sexual interest in children, and empirically, there appears to be a low risk of contact sex offending. On the other hand, there are questions about the well-being of a child under supervision of a parent who has engaged with CSEM, and potential risk escalation linked to its use. Has anyone got experience how a judge/ psychological assessor currently evaluates the use of CSEM in legal decision-making concerning unsupervised access to children?



#1. I know there is interest in the Dunkelfeld approach, for example my hospital's sexual behaviour clinic is introducing and evaluating a prevention program for self-identified pedophiles and hebephiles. I'm aware of interest in other jurisdictions as well but I don't know how far they have come.

#2. There is always a tension between risk to reoffend and other purposes of criminal justice responses. From a purely risk and resource perspective, imprisoning CSEM possession offenders is not efficient. At the same time, victims and the public are calling for bigger penalties and a "stronger" response. One potential road forward is a restorative justice approach.

#3. I don't know how much use of CSEM factors into custody and access evaluations and decisions. My hunch is that it would have a big impact, even though the empirical evidence is that CSEM users pose a low risk of *detected* contact sexual offending. In the 2011 meta-analysis we published in SAJRT, we found a big gap between criminal record (1 in 8) and record plus self-report (1 in 2) so it is probable that a sizable proportion of parents who have used CSEM have in fact committed undetected contact offenses.


Thank you for all contributions to this interesting debate. I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the issues raised by participants from an ‘operational’ point of view.

-          Dark Web: The number of webpages mentioned in the opening statement (31,226) relates to the actual number of webpages assessed by the IWF in 2014 as depicting child sexual abuse. This is not an estimate of the total number of webpages that exist depicting this content but merely what the IWF encountered in one year of operations. The numbers for 2015 will be released soon and will show a significant increase. The IWF encountered 51 instances of links to CSAM on hidden services in 2014. Most often the content was still hosted on the open web and all instances were reported to law enforcement. So the IWF hasn’t seen a huge increase in the number of reports related to the dark web – but of course we only have data on what we encounter. The International Association of Hotlines (INHOPE) is due to release their annual report soon and this should provide us with a more global overview of the amount of CSAM encountered by hotlines.

-          International response to combating online CSAM: Currently, the international cooperation for hotlines to remove content at source is as follows. If a hotline encounters content which is traced to another country (for the UK, this is the case in 99.7% of the CSAM encountered by the IWF) it will pass on this information to the hotline in the ‘hosting country’ using the INHOPE reporting mechanism. The hotline in the ‘hosting country’ will then process the report using its own procedures and will liaise with national/local police forces. If there is no INHOPE hotline in the ‘hosting country’ reports are passed on to local law enforcement. Besides removal at source, the IWF also provides services to the online industry (URL List, Hash List, Keyword List,…) which companies can use in the various markets they operate in.

-          Self-generated content/sexting: The IWF increasingly sees sexually explicit content which could be assessed as ‘self-generated’, using cameras on mobile phones or webcams. For older teens, this would typically be content that is sent to boy or girlfriend. For younger children, this is more often related to some form of coercion by people on the other end of the connection. Unfortunately, this material ends up on the open web and in most cases (88% of the content encountered in an IWF study of 2012 – accessible on it is taken from the original upload location and brought together on websites which have ‘collections’ of these images.

McM 3

I see the rational for UoL's second point, regarding less resources-demanding intervention. It occurred to me when I assessed some of these offenders to feel that a formal psychotherapeutic follow-up may not have much impact. However, I also had the impression that if we do not have enough resources to put on this population, we may miss the child pornography consumers who are also a hand-on offenders but unknown to the police at the time of the assessment/treatment.

There are some hands-on sexual offenders who stop assaulting children when they access child pornography online. I was wondering if this means that this population is really clinically different from the one who keeps offending. Do we know which psychological factors may influence the change in the behaviour (insight, impulsivity) and should we have specific therapeutic approach for them...

Does anyone have some thoughts or data about it ?

McM 2

So, if we follow from comments made by the lot of us...

I don't pretend to have any real sense of the magnitude of the issue. Like most, I know that it's there and that there are increasing numbers of offenders coming into the system. As a Static-99R trainer, the most common question I get in the US is, "What can we use on our CSEM offenders, if we can't use the Static?"

UoO's qUoOe from the police officer is telling: There are likely too many online offenders to "arrest our way out of this". It would also seem that to principally target the downloaders (or users) would be akin to picking the low hanging fruit. In my view, the producers and distributors (over and above simple sharing by users to obtain more materials - like webmasters) of the materials should be our focus. If those people who are strictly downloaders are at relatively low risk, perhaps, some different way of responding to their behavior is required. At present, many downloaders - when caught - end up with (sometimes) inordinately high sentences in comparison to the potential risk they pose.

Having methods and tools that would help us to triage the users most likely to be a continued problem would be welcome, and it sounds like there are efforts to do something of this sort. But, again, is that where our strongest systemic efforts should be directed? Our response could be something along the lines of what some jurisdictions have done with drug courts. Recognizing that the users have a "clinical" issue - over and above having broken the law - we could offer psychological assistance, while directing our major criminal justice efforts to holding accountable the producers and distributors.


I think the analogy to the so-called war on drugs is apt, I've made the same point in presentations.

The "war on online sexual exploitation and abuse" is not going to succeed if criminal justice and other sources are focused on arresting end users (accessers & possessors) rather than providing prevention and early intervention resources and focusing police investigators on the traders and producers. And, like the war on drugs, we won't make gains without addressing demand as much, if not more, than supply.


This has been a very interesting discussion. I think most of us agree that CSEM is a public health problem that requires more than just a criminal justice response. There seems to be some agreement that we should prioritize ‘higher risk ‘ CSEM offenders for police/criminal justice interventions, but that lower risk offenders could be transitioned to non-criminal interventions, such as treatment and restorative justice courts.

To do this requires a method of case prioritization that is empirically justified. This is where researchers can help: identifying factors amongst CSEM that are related to contact sex offending, and then creating and validating a prioritization instrument. The work by Michael Seto and Angela Eke are helpful in regards to factors associated with reoffending with contact sexual offence. There is also the KIRAT that can be used to identify CSEM users that are possible mixed offenders (also having a contact sexual offence).  With case prioritization, very low risk offenders could be targeted for an alternative intervention. Treatment, however, is difficult because of mandatory reporting laws (some states have/are passing legislations that would make CSEM use meet mandatory reporting requirements). That said, there are also online treatment programs that could be helpful (e.g. Stop it now, ) until Dunkelfeld type programs are available.

A related point: mandatory minimums are lengthy and are typically not proportional to the risk posed by CSEM offenders. This means we are using limited resources to incarcerate a group of offenders that are mostly at a very low risk to reoffending, rather than focusing on incarcerating individuals who pose a risk to the community. Public safety is not the sole purpose of criminal justice responses (e.g., punishment), and so a restorative justice approach could be one-way forward as UoO had suggested. Indeed, similar to drug-treatment courts and domestic violence courts, perhaps we will see the use of CSEM courts in the future (e.g., McM 2 point). This would require courts and politicians to see the benefits of an alternative approach for some CSEM users (knowledge translation efforts would be needed).

Lastly, there was also mention of primary prevention programs (e.g., UoL). For example, targeting youth to ensure they understand healthy sexual boundaries. Creating online or in person help for individuals who are concerned with their sexual interests. Increasing public support for prevention is important, and necessitates that the public understand that child sexual abuse is indeed preventable. Public and politicians may then be more apt to funds such prevention programs (e.g., work by Elizabeth Letourneau).


I totally agree with your last point McM 2 in the sense that perhaps we should see the downloaders as having a clinical issue. As we know viewing all forms of child sexual abuse imagery are illegal including those which don't depict real children. This means that for those who have a sexual preference for children there is no legal outlet for them. I'm not necessarily advocating for decriminalisation of this activity but I do wonder whether we need to treat the need rather than punish the activity. This would obviously be dependent on the type and scale of the pictures that were involved.

There is an interesting article posted by BBC News today which has the latest IWF figures:


This sounds like an interesting proposal - and one that agrees with the current philosophy that is becoming more widespread, e.g., by Dunkelfeld or the approach UoO describes in his clinic.

However, looking at the initial desistance rates reported by Dunkelfeld (, their confidential intervention didn't have the effect that was hoped for. One of the CSEM users we interviewed stated that the day of their arrest was both "the worst and the best day" of their life, as for the first time their online behaviour was "out in the open", and they were "forced" to deal with their offending. Of course, differently to the German approach, this was - at the time- also the first time for them to be offered access to support avenues. Many of our interviewees described a cognitive detachment from their online behaviour as "not being real" (Lucy Faithfull uses the term "bubble"); which was also identified when we investigated the implicit theories of CSEM users ( So I wonder if the low reconviction rate linked to CSEM users could also be linked to the experience of "making it real" through having to deal with offender management services - and that this could be potentially missed in the confidential interventions currently provided.

An excellent approach would be one that allows us to deal with the large number of offenders, initially based on their self-management and providing support avenues pre-arrest (and thus, potentially without too much interruption of their lives to maintain social integration and support), however at the same time focusing on the "realness" of online behaviour and the consequences linked to this type of offending.


Although I am not naïve I was surprised and shocked by the recent IWF figures, they really reinforce in me that we are not truly aware of the extent and nature of CSEM online; I am beginning to wonder how, if ever, we will be?

The scale, type and nature of the material does raise the legitimate question of how we respond to online CSEM, grooming and online exploitation; especially given that a sole criminal justice approach does not seem to be working. I too agree that we should consider using low level users of CSEM as an access point to treatment and prevention, rather than sticking to a complete criminal justice approach. Identifying these low level CSEM users and redirecting them to treatment and support is a worthwhile secondary prevention tool (I recognize that viewing does not always lead to doing). You can imagine a scenario where they get contacted by the police and a health professional to discuss their online activity and how to respond to it. In addition, how does this translate into youth with a sexual interest in other youth [or younger], peers looking for [what in their instance] age appropriate material and individuals with Learning Difficulties...

I think the question might be what is the role for the individual, community and state [especially via schools, health care, etc] to foster a conversation about this and the ways to get a grip on the situation? Especially when [as said on Wednesday at the Leverhulme conference in Bristol] that people are criticizing the IWF for trying to censor and control the internet by tagging/removing issues.


UWE - I think the biggest learning from Dunkelfeld was that a public/open approach IS possible about sexual interest in children - their public advertisement campaign ( is an example of lowering the public threshold and making it possible to raise one's concerns, issues, calls for help (...) at an earlier stage.

UWE also raised the issue of earlier interventions in school - we need to raise the bar with our young people. Just to veer out a little: It is still possible in some schools for parents to opt out of sex education - but we need to prepare young people, both in terms of the sexual exploration the internet provides but also the sexual victimisation that can occur online. Just as the internet has now become a healthy component of the school curriculum (in terms of access to resources, to teach programming skills etc.), it also provides young people with a constant reinforcement schedule that they need to self-manage; this is a huge self-management task that children need to acquire, which places new developmental challenges. To me, the most interesting finding from was the reluctance of schools to "talk about it".


UoL & UWE - just a brief observation regarding young people and the importance of education as a preventative mechanism. One of the core issues that is becoming apparent to those working in schools with children on these matters (certainly in the UK and Ireland) is that the boundary between sex/relationship education and school-based 'online safety' interventions is becoming increasingly difficult to draw. One view is that sex and relationship education curricula need to begin to comprehensively address issues around technological expressions of sexual behavior so that young people can better understand and manage their own sexualised use of technology. For example, this might involve increasing young peoples' awareness of potential issues around problematic pornography consumption, or the implications of posting self-generated sexual materials in publicly accessible spaces (e.g. image harvesting and reposting on 'para sites' as described in the 2012 IWF report), the legal/social consequences of sharing sexual images of other young people online, associated issues around sexual consent, etc. Interesting UK perspective from Prof. Andy Phippen of Plymouth University here: ;


We would like to thank all participants for a very detailed and rich discussion.

As the internet evolves, the problem evolves and so do the possible solutions to the problem. It was very interesting to hear the various approaches, often originating from different contexts.

Even an attempt to summarise the debate would do injustice to the full extent and detail of the discussion.  As such, I will only mention a couple of general points.

Over the past couple of weeks, we discussed the nature of the problem, distinguishing between various types of offending (producing, distributing and viewing CSAM), the technological tools available to combat the availability of CSAM and the responses in terms of prevention, treatment and criminal justice.

One of the reoccurring difficulties for dealing with online CSAM and CSE touched upon in this debate was ‘scale’.

The discussion focussed on the possibility to distinguish between various risk levels and which approach should be taken for these different categories – as well as who could be involved in addressing the problem (i.e. responsibilities of the individual, state and society).

The debate was also rich in references and links to further information. I hope these references and the content of the debate itself was of use to all participants.

From our perspective, the debate provided an extremely interesting addition to the work we do in our hotline and we look forward to continue following the various initiatives in this field. 

Again thank you for your contributions and special thanks to the organisers for facilitating this discussion.



Sexual Deviance and General Criminality Factors Among Adolescent Sex Offenders

W. Eric Filleter, Carleton University
Liam Ennis, Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment Centre
Kevin L. Nunes, Carleton Univeristy
William D. Murphy, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

In 2015 I received the ATSA poster award for my research on sexual deviance and general criminality factors amongst adolescents who had committed sexual offenses. The purpose of this article is to briefly present this research.

I am currently in the process of completing my Master’s degree under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Nunes, and through him was able to connect with Drs. Liam Ennis and William Murphy. Drs. Nunes, Ennis and Murphy allowed me the opportunity to work with them to analyze a dataset that contained information on a large sample of 488 male adolescents who had committed sexual offenses.

As the dataset had so much information, the decision was made to carry out an exploratory analysis to see if there were any significant differences within this group of adolescents. Specifically, due to their relevance in the literature (see Daversa & Knight, 2007; Knight & Sims-Knight, 2004; Seto, 2008), we decided to examine whether there were differences in terms of sexual deviance and general criminality factors (e.g., antisociality) on the basis of whether they had been sexually abused or not, and whether they had been physically abused or not. Generally speaking, we hypothesized that we would see differences between the adolescents who had experienced childhood sexual abuse and those who had not in terms of their sexual deviance and general criminality, with those who experienced abuse presenting as more sexually deviant and generally criminal. Further, we hypothesized that we would see differences between the group of adolescents who had experienced childhood physical abuse and those who had not in terms of their general criminality.

In the current study, variables that were used as indicators of sexual deviance included age at first sexual offense, number of sexual offences, pedophilic interest, sexual obsession, and various paraphilic interests, that were measured using the Screening Scale for Pedophilic Interest (Seto & Lalumiere, 2001) and the various subscales of the adolescent form of the Multiphasic Sex Inventory (Nichols & Molinder, 1984). In terms of general criminality factors the following variables were examined: general antisociality, which was measured using the Childhood and Adolescent Taxon Scale (Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998);  delinquent personality traits, which was measured using the Psychopathic/Deviate subscale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (Butcher, Williams, Graham, Archer, Tellegen, Ben-Porath, & Kaemmer, 1992); aggressiveness, which was measured using the Interpersonal Behavioural Scale (Mauger, Adkinson, Zoss, Firestone, & Hook, 1980); and number of non-sexual arrests were included. Participants’ scores on these variables were obtained through clinical files, collateral sources, and self-report questionnaires.

The results of the current study suggest that experiencing childhood sexual abuse was generally associated with the presence of more indicators of sexual deviance and general criminality. In fact, those who had been sexually abused exhibited more sexual deviance and exhibited more general criminality with the exception of the number of non-sexual arrests. Additionally, experiencing childhood physical abuse was associated with more general antisociality; however, contrary to our original hypothesis, no significant differences were found between the physically abused group and their non-abused counterparts in terms of any of the other general criminality measures (i.e., aggressiveness, delinquent personality traits, and number of non-sexual arrests). Finally, as we hypothesized, no differences were detected between the physically abused group and the non-physically abused group in terms of their sexual deviance.

The results of the current study indicate that experiencing childhood sexual abuse was associated with more sexual deviance and general criminality, amongst adolescents who had committed sexual offenses. Further, the experience of childhood physical abuse was associated with more general antisociality. As such, the results of the current study do seem to be consistent with prominent theories in this field of research, which purport that early life adversity (i.e., sexual and physical abuse) can lead to the development of antisocial characteristics (i.e., sexual deviance and general criminality), which can in turn lead an individual to perpetrate sexually aggressive acts (e.g., Daversa & Knight, 2007; Knight & Sims-Knight, 2004; Seto, 2008). However, as the results of the current study are correlational, no causal inferences can be drawn in support of the aforementioned theories. True experiments that allow for causal interpretations to be made are extremely difficult to conduct in this field of research, particularly when childhood sexual and physical abuses are present. However, despite this challenge, further longitudinal research should examine whether and how childhood abuse may lead individuals directly or indirectly to sexual offending.

I would like to thank ATSA for honouring me with the poster prize at the 2015 conference. I would also like to thank Drs. Nunes, Ennis and Murphy for allowing me the opportunity to work on this project with them.


Butcher, J.N., Williams, C.L., Graham, J.R., Archer, R.P., Tellegen, A., Ben-Porath, Y.S., & Kaemmer, B. (1992). Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Adolescent Version(MMPI-A): Manual for administration, scoring and interpretation. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Daversa, M. T., & Knight, R. A. (2007). A Structural Examination of the Predictors of Sexual Coercion Against Children in Adolescent Sexual Offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 34(10), 1313-1333.

Knight, R. A., & Sims-Knight, J. E. (2004). Testing an Etiological Model for Male Juvenile Sexual Offending Against Females. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 13(3-4), 33-55.

Mauger, P.A., Adkinson, D. K., Zoss, S. K., Firestone, G., & Hook, D. J. (1980). Interpersonal Behavior Survey (IBS), Western Psychological Services: Los Angeles.

Nichols, A.R., & Molinder, I. (1984). Multiphasic Sex Inventory. 437 Dowes Dr., Tacoma, WA., 98466.

Quinsey, V. L., Harris, G.T., Rice, M.E., & Cormier, C. A. (1998). Violent offenders: Appraising and managing risk. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Seto, M. C. (2008). Pedophilia and sexual offending against children: Theory, assessment, and intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Seto, M., & Lalumiere, M. (2001). A Brief Screening Scale to Identify Pedophilic Interests Among Child Molesters. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 13(1), 15-25.


3rd Annual ATSA Student Clinical Case and Data Blitz

Join us for the ATSA Clinical Case and Data Blitz held at the 2016 ATSA Conference on Thursday, November 3rd from 1:30pm to 3:00pm. 

Students will be presenting their research and clinical work in 5 minutes or less during the ATSA Clinical Case and Data Blitz. This year we have 15 presentations examining important issues related to the prevention, assessment, management, and treatment of people who have committed sexual offences.  Below is the schedule for the Data Blitz. See the conference brochure in July for information on how to register for the conference, and for the Data Blitz session.

Moderated by
           Chantal A. Hermann, Ph.D.
Skye Stephens, Ph.D. Candidate

Student Clinical Case and Data Blitz


Opening Remarks


Women who Engage in Abuse of Trust Sexual Behaviours With Young People in Their Care

    • Andrea J. Darling, Ph.D. Student, University of Durham (England)


    “So Why Did You Stop?” Explanations Provided by Online Users of Child Sexual Exploitation Material

    • Danielle Kettleborough, Ph.D. Student, University of Lincoln


    Judicial Decision Making and Juvenile Offenders: Influence of Medical Evidence and Victim Age

    • John Michael Falligant, M.S., Auburn University


    Can We Keep it Simple?  Using the BARR-2002R to Predict Violent Reoffending Among Sex Offenders in a Police Sample

    • Farron Wielinga, BA (Hons) Student, MacEwan University


    When Things Go Wrong: The Impact of Re-Offences or Recalls on Volunteers in Circles of Support and Accountability

    • Giulia Lowe, Ph.D. Student, University of Auckland


    Treatment Change: A Difference in Degree or Kind?

    • Jacinta Cording, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Canterbury (New Zealand)


    Exploring the Relationship Between Personality Dysfunction, Pathological Personality Traits and Sexual Offences in Individuals who Have Previously Sexually Offended

    • Jackie Hamilton, Ph.D. Student, Nottingham Trent University


    Interdependent Group Contingencies to Decrease Disruptive Behaviour in Adolescent Group Therapy Populations

    • Kristen Brogan, M.S. Student, Auburn University


    Cognitive Impairments in High Risk Offenders

    • Laura Echevarria, M.Sc. Student, California State University


    An Evaluation of Australia's First Community Notification Scheme

    • Laura Whitting, D.Psych Student, Deakin University


    Paraphilic Interests, Early Childhood Experiences, and Adjustment in Emerging Adulthood: Associations and Risk Factors for Problematic Sexual Behaviours

    • Lauryn Vander Molen, Ph.D. Student, University of New Brunswick


    Victim-Perpetrator Relationship in Childhood Abuse: Impact on Outcome in Individuals who Engage in Sexual Misconduct Across Clinical and Non-Clinical Samples

    • Kelcey Hall, Ph.D. Student, East Tennessee State University


    Rehabilitating Ex-Sex Offenders In Treatment Through Job-Seeker Empowerment

    • Tanesha Meade, MSN Student, Towson University


    Examination of Clinician Attitudes Regarding Treatment of Individuals With Pedophilia 

    • Carisa Collins, Ph.D. Student, University of Ontario Institute of Technology


    Disparities Related to Vulnerability for Recruitment into Commercial Sexual Exploitation among Female Offender Minorities

    • Maite Silva, Psy.D. Student, Loyola University of Maryland


    Closing Remarks


    The Trauma Myth

    by Susan Clancy

    Reviewed by Jon Brandt, MSW, LICSW

    As a former child protection social worker, and now working with both victims and offenders, I was drawn to The Trauma Myth because of both the title, and subtitle: “The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children – and its aftermath.”  When I first read Susan Clancy’s book, in 2010, nearly every page confirmed my professional experience with victims.  I’m offering this review some six years after publishing because I believe most experienced professionals will agree that Clancy’s thesis is not just well-researched, but articulate and luminously persuasive.  

    Dr. Clancy is a Harvard trained experimental psychologist.  Her expertise is not in the field of sexual abuse; it is in the field of memory.  This information is important in understanding how Clancy endeavored to interview adults who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) – in part, to further understand the role of memory in how adults recalled traumatic experiences.  Clancy acknowledges that her career had a rocky start - not only investigating adult memories of childhood sexual abuse, but to understand why some people seemed to believe in alien abductions.  Clancy writes about the challenge of having to reconcile her research with two deep concerns: first, she had to abandon some of what she had been taught about the ‘trauma’ of sexual abuse, and second, she had to try to save her reputation and career. 

    After Clancy interviewed more than 200 Boston-area adult victims of CSA, she came to recognize that most victim’s memories were consistent with previous research – the vast majority of victims knew, liked, and/or trusted their abuser.  And she confirmed another finding – that most CSA was tricked and manipulated, not the product of threats, force, pain, or injury.  Even young children intuitively understand that when an older person inflicts pain, injury, or fear (elements of trauma), something is very wrong.  But when sexual violations occur in the absence of violence and in the presence of trust, most victims reported being confused by the encounter, rather than traumatized.  Less than one in ten adults that Clancy interviewed described being sexually abused as “traumatic.”  Clancy considered that perhaps CSA is so traumatic that adults had repressed their memories, but that hypothesis ran counter to research that:(1) discredits repressed memories and, (2) indicates that the more powerful life experiences are to an individual, the more the events are both strongly embedded and vividly recalled.  Clancy goes on to articulately detail how children are indeed harmed by sexual abuse –in the aftermath.

    Dr. Clancy has expressed some regret about the title of her book, but does not back-peddle from her findings – that CSA is not universally traumatic.  She asserts that many professionals don’t really understand how, why, and when CSA is harmful, and imputing trauma, when it’s not present, might actually introduce secondary harm.  Clancy expresses that children clearly do not have the developmental capabilities to understand interpersonal sex; that acceding to sexual touching is not the same as sexual consent, and that naïve cooperation is not complicity.  In the absence of veritable trauma, the harm of CSA comes not from sexual touching, per se, but from relationship violations - a sense of betrayal, shame, and misplaced blame.  Clancy explains that as a CSA victim begins to sexually and socially mature, and comes to understand what motivated their abuser, they feel duped and exploited.  As victims try to reconcile how and why someone of trust would use them for sexual purposes, the ‘harm’ evolves. Clancy’s message is clear:  if we don’t talk to kids about sex, we leave them vulnerable; if we don’t listen to kids who have been sexually abused, we re-victimize them; when we truly listen to child victims, we empower them to guide their own recovery – that helps to turn victims into survivors. 

    Dr. Clancy uses the controversies around her book to illustrate how difficult it is for professionals to navigate the nuances of CSA, and that it is incumbent on adults to protect children until they are mature enough to navigate the world of interpersonal sex.  Clancy acknowledges that she was perhaps naïve in believing that rigorous science would protect the integrity of her research.  What she was not prepared for was that CSA is virtually unspeakable - so abhorrent that, even among the educated, it was difficult to separate legitimate research from prevailing public opinion, or simply the politics of sex.   

    In 1998, psychologist, Bruce Rind et. al., published an article on CSA in the APA Journal.  It was peer-reviewed, sound research, but so contrary to conventional beliefs of CSA that it resulted in an Act of Congress condemning his work.  In 1981, Professor Alfred Kadushin (one of my graduate school advisors at the University of Wisconsin), published a book titled, Child Abuse, an Interactional Event.  He spent the rest of his career explaining that he was not blaming children for being abused.

    The truth is, there has never been any time in history that sex could be separated from politics, or that science hasn’t waged an uphill battle against public opinion.  The Socratic Method, or the applications of logic and scrutiny to understanding complex problems, is a predecessor of the Scientific Method, and one of the most important legacies of Socrates.   It is ironic that Socrates could not survive the politics of his own time – he was condemned to death as a heretic.  Nearly two millennia later, perhaps Galileo had taken note of the fate of Socrates.  When Galileo found himself charged with heresy, to avoid being executed, he recanted his theory of the heliocentric solar system, and lived out his life under house-arrest.  It took another 350 years for the Catholic Church to acknowledge that Galileo had been right all along.

    Susan Clancy wasn’tcharged with heresy, at least not formally, but by her own admission, after a firestorm of controversy over The Trauma Myth,she fled the US to work in Nicaragua for several years. If Clancy was flattered by a favorable book review in the NY Times, she must have been horrified by a book review by NAMBLA.  Clancy’s book, and her story, are a testimony to professional courage in the face of deeply held, wide-spread, long-standing beliefs about the sexual abuse of children.  Apparently, Clancy no longer writes or teaches about sexual abuse, based on a Google-search, but she is still professionally active in research and education about the functions of memory.  

    There is so much right about The Trauma Myth that I am hesitant to be critical, but I think Clancy missed the mark on a few points.  In my experience, some victims of CSA have the internal constitution to avoid both the trauma and the harm of sexual abuse.   Other victims seem to have the resiliency and tenacity, with or without professional help, to truly earn the moniker of‘survivor.’  Clancy views CSA as dichotomous – if there is a victim, there is an offender, who must be punished.  If Clancy understood offending with the same verve, complexity, and nuances with which she understands victims, I think she would forgo the black and white, victim-offender paradigm in favor of the complex dynamics of offending, and the range of uniquely tailored interventions that serve victims, offenders, and their families.  With a focus on the etiology and aftermath of CSA, it might not be obvious that Clancy was also advocating for both more prevention and better public policies

    The Trauma Myth is well-researched, with endnotes in APA format.  With just over 200 pages, and still professionally sound, it is easy reading. Most individuals are likely to approach the book with the same skepticism with which Clancy pursued her research.  In the end, I think most professionals are likely to agree with many conclusions that Dr. Clancy found unassailable: that the popular, one-dimensional understanding of ‘trauma’ caused by child sexual abuse is largely a myth – a vestige of the 20th Century. 


    2016 Election

    We are proud to announce the 2016 nominees for President-Elect, Adult Clinical Practice Representative, Juvenile Clinical Practice Representative, and Student Representative positions. You should have received an emailed ballot around June 2, 2016. If you have not received a ballot, please email to request a ballot resend.


    2016 ATSA Executive Board Nominees

    President-Elect Candidates

    Below is the list of candidates for the President-Elect position on the ATSA Board of Directors.

    Franca Cortoni, Ph.D., C.Psych. 

    Download Dr. Cortoni's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Robin A. Goldman, M.A., LP

    Download Ms. Goldman's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Shan A. Jumper, Ph.D. 

    Download Dr. Jumper's full PDF Biography to read more.


    Adult Clinical Practice Representative Candidates

    Below is the list of candidates for the Adult Clinical Practice Representative position on the ATSA Board of Directors.

    Thomas M. Graves, Ph.D., LPC

    Download Dr. Graves' full PDF Biography to read more.

    Anita Schlank, Ph.D., A.B.P.P.

    Download Dr. Schlank's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Pamela M. Yates, Ph.D.

    Download Dr. Yates' full PDF Biography to read more.


    Juvenile Clinical Practice Representative Candidates

    Below is the list of candidates for the Juvenile Clinical Practice Representative position on the ATSA Board of Directors.

    Thomas Cleereman, MSW, LCSW

    Download Mr. Cleereman's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Deborah Gambles, Psy.D.

    Download Dr. Gambles' full PDF Biography to read more.

    Hugh Hanlin, Ph.D.

    Download Dr. Hanlin's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Nicole Machinski, Psy.D.

    Download Dr. Machinski's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Phil Rich, Ed.D.

    Download Dr. Rich's full PDF Biography to read more.


    Student Representative Candidates

    Below is the list of candidates for the Student Representative position on the ATSA Board of Directors.

    Andrew Brankley, MA

    Download Mr. Brankley's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Kelcey Hall, M.A.

    Download Ms. Hall's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Sacha Maimone, MA

    Download Ms. Maimone's full PDF Biography to read more.

    Shawn Tweten, M.S.

    Download Mr. Tweten's full PDF Biography to read more.


    35th ATSA Conference

    2016 Plenary Speakers

    Dr. Sarah McMahon of Rutgers University kicks off the ATSA conference Thursday morning with, “Campus Sexual Violence: Moving the Dialogue Forward”. Dr. McMahon will review current data and trends related to campus sexual violence and illuminate how those who work with sexual abusers can help move the dialogue forward. Friday will bring a three part discussion reflecting our “Different Roles, Same Goals” with “Moving the Field Forward” a discussion surrounding developments in assessment, treatment, and the prevention of sexual abuse by Dr. R. Karl Hanson of Public Safety Canada, Dr. Mark E. Olver of the University of Saskatchewan and Dr. Elizabeth J. Letourneau of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health. Saturday our conference closes with two impactful talks, “Making Untouchable Watchable,” by attorney turned documentary filmmaker David Feige, who explores the complexities of making a film that challenges many of the myths surrounding sex offenders. Dr. Alejandro Leguizamo will bring the conference to a close discussing the importance of developing good therapeutic relationships and group cohesion, with a focus on multicultural competencies with his presentation, “The Elephant in the Room: Multicultural Issues in Sex Offender Treatment.”

    Check the conference website for information on hotel and travel, exhibiting and sponsorship, and on visiting Disney World.

    Conference registration will open in July.

    Awards Announcements

    By Jill Levenson, PhD, LCSW

    I know I have the best job on the ATSA Board – chairing the Awards Committee! What a pleasure it is to review nominations, observe all the impressive work being done in our field, and share with the winners the accolades they’ve received from their colleagues. I'm happy to report we had a great response to calls for nominations this year, with many strong and deserving nominees, but there were some clear standouts that the committee agreed upon.

    Keith Kaufman

    I am especially pleased to announce that our Lifetime Achievement Award winner this year is Keith Kaufman, who has taken on a prominent leadership role in ATSA for the past 20 years. Dr. Kaufman is a Professor of Psychology at Portland State University (PSU) and served as the Psychology Department’s chair for nearly 10 years. He received his doctoral degree from the University of South Florida in 1985 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Pediatric Psychology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

    Dr. Kaufman served on the ATSA board of Directors, and as President of the organization from 2002-2004. He currently chairs the prevention task force for ATSA. His leadership extends to the greater community, as he has served as a member of the Oregon Youth Authority’s Advisory Board and on the executive board of the National Alliance of Sexual Assault Coalitions. He is chair of the Prevention Subcommittee of the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force, and a member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Prevention Subcommittee.

    Dr. Kaufman has received millions of dollars in grant funding over the past 15 years from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Centers for Disease Control. His research has focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse and enhancing the treatment of adult and juvenile sexual offenders. His work is well known and Dr. Kaufman has demonstrated his extensive leadership through his invaluable contributions to our body of research, to the training of clinicians and researchers, and mentoring of students.   Congratulations to Keith Kaufman for his lifetime achievements!

    Leo Cotter

    Our Distinguished Contribution winner this year is Leo Cotter, from Tampa Florida. Leo was a pioneer in the area of SOTX in Florida, and a founding board member of the FATSA chapter. He has taken a strong leadership role in the state, pushing the legislature to pass criteria for qualified sex offender treatment providers, advocating for revisions in our special conditions of probation several times, and maintaining a clinical practice that is known for its excellence. In the early days, he helped FATSA establish important alliances with the Department of Corrections and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (our victim advocacy agency), and often did trainings for allied professionals throughout the state. He served as FATSA president, sat on the FATSA board as a founding member for 20 years, and he often presented at Florida state conferences. At the national level, he co-chaired the ATSA conference in Atlanta, often presented at the national conference, co-authored several research studies, and is well-known in ATSA circles as an all-around nice guy.

    Joan Tabachnick

    The Gail Burns Smith award is designed to honor a clear leader connecting the fields of sex offender treatment/management and victim advocacy. The award is co-sponsored by ATSA and the National Resource Center for Sexual Violence. The awards committee was unanimous that Joan Tabachnick epitomizes the ability to bridge the gap between victim/survivor and offender groups, which is the essence and spirit of this award.   Joan is a long-standing ATSA member, former ATSA board member, co-chair of the Prevention Committee, and organizer of Massachusetts ATSA’s state conference. We are proud and delighted to honor her with this award.

    We had several applications for the Fay Honey Knopp Scholarship, which provides the recipient with travel expenses and conference fees for ATSA's annual conference. The scholarship recipient this year will be Mina Ratkalker, a social worker who is currently pursuing a PhD in forensic psychology at Drexel University. We are thrilled to be able to offer the learning opportunities available at the ATSA conference to students entering the field.

    I want to thank the outstanding Awards committee for their meticulous and diligent review of nearly a dozen very competitive nominations: Karen Baker, Art Gordon, Tony Beech, Bob McGrath, and Bill Murphy. I will be stepping down as chair in 2017 as I rotate off the ATSA Board of Directors, but will remain on the committee for another year to ensure a smooth transition for the new chair. Start thinking about next year’s nominations! We have so many deserving members among us.


    ATSA Chapters: Amplifying ATSA’s Footprint in the World

    Robin Goldman, MA, Licensed Psychologist
    Tyffani Monford Dent, PsyD, Licensed Psychologist
    Lawrence Ellerby, PhD, C. Psych.
    ATSA Organization and Development Committee Chairs

    ATSA chapters maximize our organization’s impact. Regional forums bring people together to enhance and strengthen individual and community capacities to respond to abuse prevention, treatment and management.  Chapters do this through professional development, dissemination of research, student engagement, professional networking, public education and the promotion of evidence-based practice and policy on the local and regional level.

    Several ATSA chapters hold annual conferences, which provide a wonderful opportunity to network and collaborate with local colleagues. Some chapters have held very successful conferences which continue to grow in size and impact.  In the Spring 2016 issue of the Forum, results of the ATSA Research Column survey revealed topics that readers of the Forum wanted to hear more about.  Recommended topics included assessing risk in various sub-groups; treatment for special populations; the effectiveness of alternative treatment approaches for sex offenders; and evidence-based supervision.  ATSA chapter conferences highlight many of these topics and provide an opportunity to bring in internationally recognized speakers. At the same time, chapter conferences showcase local expertise and provide an opportunity for a focus on local concerns, programs, policies and initiatives. 

    In addition to the great learning and networking opportunities provided by ATSA chapter conferences, ATSA has partnered with the chapters to invite new members by applying for ATSA membership at reduced cost.  A traveling exhibit packet can be requested by an ATSA chapter for use at their conference and new applicants receive a waiver of the $35 application fee.  Several chapters have taken advantage of this opportunity to grow the number of ATSA members in their region and thereby expand the number of chapter members/potential chapter members as well. 

    ATSA has 26 active chapters and its relationship with those chapters is a model called Separate but Affiliated Corporations.  As such, each chapter operates pursuant to an affiliation agreement with ATSA.   Each chapter must establish itself as a non-profit corporation and create a separate, locally elected board of directors that is legally responsible for the activities of the corporation that it governs.  This entails establishing chapter by-laws and following requirements of the affiliation agreement.   Serving on an ATSA chapter Board of Directors provides a great opportunity to help shape the field on a local level, while learning the ropes of governing a non-profit organization. 

    Operating a non-profit requires a level of commitment that must be sustained over time.  Chapters that have a large membership often find this easier than those with a small membership, given the time and effort required to establish and sustain a non-profit organization and respond to the needs and interests of its members.  Some states and regions have opted to join forces to expand their member numbers and their reach.  Some chapters have extended chapter membership to ATSA members from adjoining states that do not have an ATSA chapter.  There has even been an interest in the development of ATSA chapters internationally. The Netherlands was the first to establish an ATSA chapter outside of the United States.  The persistent efforts of a small number of ATSA members to establish this chapter were challenged by the requirement that 10 ATSA members must sign on to form a chapter.  ATSA members from the Netherlands joined forces with members from Belgium and now operate an active and growing chapter.  

    ATSA members have been creative in finding ways to create the opportunity to develop ATSA chapters, including a number of states working together to create regional chapters. The Mid-Atlantic Region of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MARATSA) is an example of a successful chapter that includes multiples states and regions. MARATSA’s territory includes the states of Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania as well as the District of Columbia.  Separated into four areas (Area 1: Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shores, Area 2: Remaining area of Maryland and the District of Columbia, Area 3: Central Pennsylvania and East, Area 4: Central Pennsylvania and West).  Each area has a representative on the MARATSA Board of Directors.

    The multi-state concept began when none of the individual states could drum up sufficient commitment or the required number of ATSA members to begin their own chapter.  MARATSA was formally chartered in the spring of 2010, incorporating in the state of Delaware, after several years of networking between professionals within each of the now established areas. This was not without some bumps in the road.  Hurdles faced in forming MARATSA included the large geographical area and the challenge of finding representation in all four areas; motivation and faith that it could be accomplished and would be worth the effort; and the reality that states have different laws for non-profit incorporation.  In spite of the challenges, persistence and determination prevailed and at present, MARATSA has a governing board of directors that includes a president, president-elect, past president, secretary, treasurer and representatives from the four regions.  It operates committees focused on membership, education, public policy, the annual conference and the newsletter.   In addition to regular meetings of the Board of Directors, each of the four areas is responsible for a minimum of four meetings per year within their respective area.  The area meetings offer a “mini-training” and an opportunity to collaborate with others in the field.  Each year the MARATSA annual conference is rotated to a different area.  In the Spring of 2016, MARATSA’s conference hosted nearly 200 attendees. 

    The MARATSA chapter reports that they have a positive vibe and look forward to continued growth.  They have a newly reorganized membership committee and are keeping up with the latest technology by updating their website to make it more user friendly.  You can learn more about MARATSA at  According to Mark Flock, MARATSA President-Elect, “In summary, in forming a regional chapter you need a group of dedicated persons that have a common goal and work together to achieve it. Utilize the resources of ATSA in developing the organizations bylaws, taking the risk of starting off with a conference to build some funding to keep the organization going, and always look for new people to get involved so you can hand off what you started so others in the field can continue to benefit.”

    Many other ATSA Chapters are doing exciting and impactful things that make a profound difference in the field of sexual abuse prevention. If you live in a state or region that does not have an ATSA chapter and are interested in learning more about how to establish a chapter, visit the ATSA website and look for the ATSA Chapter Formation Guidelines in the Members Only section.  The ATSA Board of Directors Organization and Development Committee Co-Chair, Robin Goldman, and Sarah Gorter, ATSA Office Assistant and Membership Coordinator, are available to provide information and guidance to the chapters and to ATSA members interested in exploring chapter formation.    

    National and international organizations and their chapters forge partnerships because they have much to gain from working together.  We are committed to continuing to strengthen and expand the important partnerships between ATSA and its chapters and to support the development of new chapters as we work together to prevent sexual abuse! We invite you to mobilize your community!


    New ATSA Members

    The following ATSA members were approved for Membership from March to May 2016.

    Matthew Ackenhausen, LCSW
    Tulsa, OK

    Richard Kenworthy, BS
    Windsor Heights, IA
    Bjana Adams, LPC, LSOTP
    Dayton, TX

    Kristy Kiland, Psy.D.
    Fargo, ND
    Audrey Alards, MSc.
    Den Bosch, Netherlands

    Kendra Kubala, Psy.D.
    Philadelphia, PA
    Regan Andrews, MCJ
    Tucson, AZ

    Michele M. Leslie
    Neenah, WI
    Imelda Arellano-Nunez,
    Yuma, AZ

    Danielle Loney
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Sherry A. Ash, MA, NCC, LPC
    Farmington, MO

    Andrea Lovett, Ph.D.
    Eagan, MN
    Linda Banner, PhD, MFT
    San Jose, CA

    Lo'Lita Theresa Lubbers, PsyD
    St. Paul, MN
    Rickey Lee Bates, MS
    Memphis, TN

    Deanna Manske, MA, LPC
    Eugene, OR
    Hi'ilei Battistini, BS
    Salem, OR

    Felicia Marsh, M.A., L.A.C.
    Mesa, AZ
    Nicholas Beard, M.A. LAC
    Tucson, AZ

    Alicia Martinez
    Okemah, OK
    Kristina Bender-Crice, M.S. PLPC
    Farmington, MO

    Kelly McAleer, Psy.D.
    Orangeburg, NY
    Brenda Bennett, M.A.
    Bronx, NY

    Picolya McCall, Psy.D.
    Orange, CA
    Jack Berkenstock, MHS
    Wexford, PA

    Lori McCline, LCADC
    Egg Harbor Township, NJ
    Sarah Bione-Dunn, Psy.D.
    New Haven, CT

    Bethany Merrett
    Atlanta, GA
    Marcus Boatman
    Van Wert, IN

    Kelly Marie Meyer, BS
    Belle Plaine, MN
    Robert E. Bodell, MA
    Benzonia, MI

    Katie Miller, D.S.W
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Kellie Bodie-Miner, MSW
    Moose Lake, MN

    Paula Minske, MS, LMFT
    Onamia, MN
    Brett Boswinkle, MS
    Marion, IN

    Freek Mohlmann
    Poortugaal, Netherlands
    Daniel T. Broughton, LPC
    Ann Arbor, MI

    John C. Motley, MS
    Canton, TX
    Zachary Campbell, MA
    Moose Lake, MN

    Amy E. Mueller, MA
    Liberty Corner, NJ
    Mary Cardinal, MA
    Lino Lakes, MN

    Alan Nasier Nadery
    Almere, Netherlands
    Walter Cardona, M.Ed.
    Seattle, WA

    Alex North, LPC
    Meridian, ID
    Suji Choe
    Bridgewater, MA

    Jill Novacek, LCSW
    St Charles, IL
    Carissa Clement, PsyD
    Dartmouth, NS, Canada

    Brielle Nuzzo, BA
    bloomfield, NJ
    James Coupe, Psy.D., MBA
    Norristown, PA

    Alice Otero-Armijo, LPCC
    Albuquerque, NM
    Marianna Crawford,
    Kansas City, MO

    Erica Parr, LCSW
    Albion, IN
    Cara Crisson, Psy.D.
    Torrance, PA

    Wim Pontier
    Den Haag, Netherlands
    Minne De Boeck, MSc.
    Edegem, Netherlands

    Chris Porter, , Sr. USPO
    White Plains, NY
    Mindy Dickson, MA
    Lino Lakes, MN

    Emma Rava, LMSW
    Columbia, SC
    Susan DiVito, MSW
    North Massapequa, NY

    Megan Reese, PsyD
    Rushville, IL
    Rachel Edmonds, LMSW
    Olathe, KS

    Gail Roberson, MS, LPC
    Joplin, MO
    Nicole Elsen, Psy.D., LP
    St. Peter, MN

    Ron Royer, M.Ed.
    Moose Lake, MN
    Shelley Feld, MSW, CSWA, LICSWA
    Portland, OR

    Mara Siegel, JD
    Phoenix, AZ
    Jennifer Felsher, PhD., C.Psych.
    Etobicoke, ON, Canada

    Nancy Stacken, MA
    Moose Lake, MN
    John R. Fowler, LISW-CP
    Conway, SC

    Pamela Stanchfield, LGSW
    Beaverton, OR
    Andrea Garrote, M.A.
    Piscataway, NJ

    Jillian Steinberg, MSW BSW RSW
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    Kris Goethals
    Edegem, Netherlands

    Stuart Stuthers, MS, LMHC
    Arcadia, FL
    Suzanne Goodwin, LPC, NCC
    Atlanta, GA

    Tiffany Sullivan
    Perrysburg, OH
    Andrew Green, LCSW
    Lakewood, NJ

    Laure Swearingen, Ph.D.
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Margaret Griffin, LCSW
    Newburgh, NY

    Phillip Tarmann, LADC
    Lino Lakes, MN
    Heidi Guinen, LICSW
    Concord, NH

    Laura Thompson, MA, LAC
    Lakewood, NJ
    Cynthia Hackathorn, Ph.D.
    Jefferson City, MO

    Cathryn Lee Thrasher, PhD.
    Atlanta, GA
    John Harpole, MA, LPC, NCC
    Rushville, IL

    Shawn Tweten, M.S.
    Saint Peter, MN
    Marilyn Hea, LCSW
    Beardstown, IL

    Carlos J. Vega, Psy.D.
    Casa Grande, AZ
    William Heineke, Ed.D.
    Gillette, WY

    Doug Veit, LCSW
    Coalinga, CA
    Sandra Henriquez, MBA
    Sacramento, CA

    Jolanda Verbeek
    den haag, Netherlands
    Michael Hettig, MA
    Saint Peter, MN

    Peggy Vermont, PY6570
    Gainesville, FL
    Nicole Hill, MS, LAC
    Fayetteville, AR

    Cassie Villegas,
    Mesa, AZ
    Ivy Hofstadter, Psy.D.
    Larned, KS

    Frank F. Weber, M.S., L.P.
    Sartell, MN
    Alice Hougardy, LCPC
    Miles City, MT

    Jennifer Whitten, MA
    Cleveland, OH
    Judy Howerter-Zulawski, M.A.
    Rushville, IL

    Joke Wijnen,
    Leeuwarden, Netherlands
    Rachel M. Jasper, LCSW
    Mauston, WI

    Kymberleigh Wilhelmy, MA
    Minneapolis, MN
    Robert D. Jenkins, M.S.
    Stanhope, NJ

    JG Wood,
    Bryan, TX
    Shuneka Johnson

    Michael Zalewa, LMHC
    Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
    Eleen Jorritsma
    Groningen, Netherlands

    Laura Zorich, Psy.D.
    Portland, OR
    Cara Kent, M.A.
    Windham, ME


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