Vol. XXXI, Issue 4
to this special issue of the ATSA Forum dedicated to international perspectives
on sexual abuse. The issue is authored in large part by members of ATSA’s
International Committee, the chair of which is Kieran McCartan. You will find
the articles address international issues directly, represent international
perspectives, or are authored by professionals and students from around the
world, representing eight countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada,
Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, UK, and USA.
issue, the International Committee provides an update on the busy year they’ve
had and what is in store, including a panel at the upcoming conference on community
reintegration. Additionally, a two-part article summarizes the results of the
international members’ survey. Part one describes ATSA’s international members,
including practitioner knowledge, training and experience. In part two, practitioners’
attitudes to and understandings of community integration are summarized.
feature article authored by Katherine Gotch, Margaret Anne Laws, Karla Lopez,
and Kieran McCartan examines international approaches to registration and
disclosure legislation and practice. We also hear from Carla Xella about CoNTRAS-TI’s 1st Conference: A Network Against
Sexual Abuse. Knowledge, Assessment, Prevention. This hugely successful
conference brought together stakeholders from across the country and abroad to
examine sexual abuse and prevention in Italy.
standing columns give us some insight into innovative work happening
internationally. The Clinical Corner column is authored by Wineke Smid, Nina
ten Hoor, and Kasia Uzieblo, and describes their promising work using Eye
Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) as part of the treatment for
individuals who commit sexual abuse. Our student voice column is authored by
Canadian Brandon Sparks from the University of Saskatchewan. He describes his
research into individuals who identify with the Incel group. Not only does
Brandon help us understand more about the culture of this group, but also how
he begins the conversation about research into their behaviour and the
potential for harm.
issue we have two book reviews that represent work from abroad in the case of
the Hollomotz book. Here, Becky Palmer reviews collaborative approaches to
understanding vulnerability to sexual abuse with those diagnosed with
learning/cognitive disabilities. In his review, David Prescott takes a look back at a seminal book, International
Perspectives on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders, edited by
Boer, Eher, Craig, Miner, & Pfäfflin.
issue is all about perspective. Not only does it remind us of the foundational work
happening around the world, but it also highlights new approaches and areas of
exploration in an increasingly diverse, and yet integrated, world. I hope you
enjoy this issue of the Forum. As always, I look forward to reading your
articles and I am happy to work with you on developing ideas for a Forum
Heather M. Moulden
ATSA Forum Editor
For those of us in the northern hemisphere,
summer is drawing to a close, which signals the gearing up of activities in
preparation for ATSA’s 38th Research and Treatment Conference in
Atlanta, Georgia, November 6 to 9, 2019. The conference program was released this
past July and sessions have been quickly filling up, as is the conference
hotel. For those of you who have not yet done so, I encourage you to secure
your place in your preferred sessions to avoid disappointment. Your conference
chairs, Jacqueline Page and Robert McGrath, have ensured a line-up of exciting
plenaries, symposia, workshop presentations, poster sessions, discussion
groups, and advanced clinics relating to issues in both victim and perpetrator
research and treatment.
Members will recall that there will be an
international experts meeting to determine best practices for the treatment of
adult men who have engaged in sexual offending behavior at the Université de Montréal (Canada) on
September 25-26, 2019. This meeting will be comprised of conference-style
presentations as well as discussion sessions. The presentations will be
live-streamed and as ATSA members you will be able to connect and view these
presentations. The presentation schedule and the instructions to connect to the
live streaming of these presentations will be sent directly to each member.
Please watch your inbox for the email from ATSA for those details.
Keeping with the international theme, this
current issue of your Forum newsletter focuses on the activities of our international
members. You will recall that in 2018, ATSA entered into a formal affiliation
agreement with the Italian organization CoNTRAS-TI (National Coordination for
the Treatment and Research of Sexual Aggression - The Italian Contribution
[English translation of Coordinamento
Nazionale per il Trattamento dell’Aggressione Sessuale-Testimonianze Italiane]).
As a newly formed organization, CoNTRAS-TI held its inaugural conference this
past summer in Milan, Italy. Please read the summary of this highly successful conference
provided by our Italian colleague Carla Xella, who is also a member of the ATSA
Further international news in this current
issue is provided by Kieran McCartan, our Board international representative. He
reviews the results of the international survey on practitioners working with individuals convicted of sexual offences
around the world. In addition, readers will be interested in the enlightening article
on international perspectives of registration and notification authored by Katherine
Gotch, Margaret Anne Laws, Karla Lopez, and Kieran McCartan, which shows that there
are different approaches to oversight and monitoring individuals convicted of a
sexual offence around the world.
Until we meet in Atlanta in November, I
wish you an excellent continuation of your respective contributions toward our
shared goal of “A World Without Sexual
International Committee update
This feels like a timely update as I am ending my first term
(2017-2020) and about to start my second (2020-2023) as chair of ATSA’s
International Committee. The International Committee has achieved a lot over
the past 3 years including:
- The re-establishment of a committee (which has
11 members from 10 countries) that talk via email (as conference calling is a
logistical/time zone nightmare);
- An international panel at the annual ATSA
- An increase in international and transnational
papers, workshops, and panels at the ATSA, NOTA, and ANZATSA conferences;
- An increase in blogs from international members which
comment on international and/or transnational issues;
- An increased focus on international perspectives
on other ATSA committees; and
- A number of internationally focused publications
including a special edition of the IATSO journal Sexual Offender Treatment last year and this edition of the ATSA Forum.
None of this could be done without the support of ATSA and
the tireless work of the committee members!
ATSA is an international organization. Although based in and
rooted in the USA, slightly more than 10% of its membership comes from non-USA
countries, which means that the international committee has an important role
to play in the development of the organization and the impact of its research
and practice. The international committee will be looking to work with other
ATSA committees, and those of its sister organizations, to cross-pollinate
ideas, to make sure that current, as well as emerging, work has an
international flavour to it, and that existing work is accessible to
non-American ATSA members. As you will see in Part 1 of the ATSA international
members’ survey in this issue, having access to up-to-date international
research and practice in their mother tongue is a massive issue for
non-Anglophone ATSA members and, therefore, this is something the international
committee wants to tackle in the coming years. It is important that there is
consistency in training and access to resources for all ATSA members regardless
of their geographical location or capability to speak English; it will be a
challenge, but a worthwhile one.
Over the next few months, the International Committee will
be reaching out to international ATSA members to see what resources they want
access to so that we can start to build a relevant and fit-for-purpose library.
In addition to published pieces we also need to think about how ATSA conference
material can be accessed by all members, but especially international members
who find it particularly difficult to attend because of cost and distance. The
role of the committee, as you can see, is not only to make ATSA members aware
of international research and practice, but to make ATSA research and practice
accessible to international members.
If you would like to join the international committee,
please do email me, or if you will be at the annual conference in Atlanta,
please come up and say hello.
What's happening in Italy?
Carla Maria Xella
CoNTRAS-TI 1st Conference:
A Network Against Sexual Abuse.
On May 26, 2019,
something new happened in Milan, Italy. A network of professionals and agencies
engaged in sexual offending research and treatment named CoNTRAS-TI had its first
national conference. This could seem mundane: Many conferences are held in this
field all around the world, and this was a small one: only one day, five
presentations, two roundtables… a small step maybe, but a leap, if not so “giant,”
and definitely big for our country.
A public approach to sexual offending in Italy and
So far, the public institutions’ approach to the issue of sexual abuse has
been motivated by punishment. Among European countries, Italy is one of the few
lacking any public action regarding the treatment of people who have committed
or are at risk of committing sexual abuse.
Recently, a new bill named the Red Code – aiming to deal with interpersonal
and sexual violence in a more efficient way – was issued. A more rapid pathway
for victims of sexual or intimate partner violence to be heard by the police was
established, but the approach to perpetrators was, once again, inspired mainly by
punishment. The length of the sentences has been increased up to 20 years, but
treatment programs in prison are bound by private agreements between prison
administrations and specialized agencies, with no funds from the state.
Treatment delivered by specialized agencies is also a stipulation for
conditional release. Although this could seem like good news, conditional
release is only expected for minor crimes, like possession and distribution of
child pornography. That means, of course, that those who committed contact
sexual crimes have little chance of being treated, either in prison or in the
community. Nevertheless, some programs for the treatment of sexual offenders,
both in detention and in the community, do exist, but currently depend on
uncoordinated personal initiatives, or are funded by special projects from the
EU. Consequently, treatment programs are aleatory and insufficient.
With respect to risk assessment, the funding approved by the former government
for translating and validating the Static-99R and STABLE-2007 has been cancelled.
The agencies involved, some of which are public administrations, will be funded
by a private foundation. Risk assessment currently is based on unstructured clinical
judgement by overworked prison psychologists lacking specific training in
The common needs of the providers of these programs are, of course, to
share experiences and practices. That’s why, in October 2017, the national
association named CoNTRAS-TI was founded. CoNTRAS-TI aims to share
research data and best practices among its members and with members
of other similar international associations, to foster collaboration with
public institutions, and to promote best practices in sex offender treatment
and community reintegration. Last year CoNTRAS-TI and ATSA signed their
affiliation and a precious collaboration was established – one that will help Italian
professionals keep informed about international research and practice.
The Conference’s title was A Network Against
Sexual Abuse. Knowledge, Assessment, Prevention. Its main aim was to
promote the exchange of knowledge among those at various levels who are
concerned with sexual abuse. That’s why the conference included not
only professionals dealing with perpetrators, but also people like
Col. Antonio Manzi, Carabinieri Force; Judge Anna Maria Gatto, President of
Pavia Court; and Gloria Soavi, President of CISMAI, the Italian network of
organizations and professionals dealing with victims of child abuse. This
deliberate choice was meant to convey that we are not on opposite sides – as
frequently considered, not only by the general public – but we are all together
struggling to make society safer.
The Conference was opened by Laura Emiletti, President of CoNTRAS-TI, who
presented the association, its story, and its goals. She stressed mainly the
need for a deep change in the public approach to sexual abuse. An effort must
be made to overcome public denial and minimization regarding issues such as the
number of victims and the severity of the harm inflicted, to enhance the
prevention of crimes, protection of victims, and rehabilitation of the
offenders, in the spirit of restorative justice. Emiletti, like other
speakers, expressed her concern for the state of things in Italy. Specifically,
she spoke about the oversimplification of such a complex issue as
sexual abuse, the solutions proposed by politicians (apparently only motivated
by the desire for public approval) and
the withdrawal of (already scarce) funding from projects and agencies involved
in prevention and treatment of sexual aggression for both victims and
perpetrators. An example of this conservative political wave is the proposed
law for the so-called “chemical castration” of sexual abusers. This law states
that the judge presiding over a case of child sexual abuse must order
anti-androgenic treatment (AAT) for the perpetrator. The approval of a
physician is not required. After a prolonged discussion, the proposal has not
been included in the Red Code bill mentioned above, but has not been completely
The issue of chemical castration was addressed by many speakers in one way
or another. The first speaker was Fabian M. Saleh, from Harvard University, who
opened the morning with a presentation concerning anti-androgenic treatment.
The presentation made clear that AAT is to be administered only as a part of
case management, only when there is a real need for reducing high-risk deviant
sexual arousal, and only if the client has not responded to psychological or first-line
psychiatric intervention. The issue of consent has also been explored, such
that, is there real consent when AAT is the condition for release? According to
Saleh, an effective treatment plan evolves from a comprehensive assessment of
multiple influences affecting the offender’s (patient’s) life and his/her
treatment and risk management needs.
As a member of the International Committee of ATSA and President of
CoNTRAS-TI’s Scientific Committee, I was the second speaker of the morning,
with a presentation centered on the international approaches to sex offender
assessment and treatment. I stressed how in many western countries assessment
and treatment of sex offenders is an established practice, even though many
differences and even problems still exist. Some examples were presented from Canada,
USA, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, as well as Latvia, which built
an efficient system of sex offender management in no more than 5 years,
starting from nothing. As for Germany, I talked about the Dunkelfeld Prevention
Project, which aims to enhance behavioral control and reduce associated
dynamic risk factors in self-motivated pedophiles/hebephiles who ask for help
in a public hospital in Berlin. In Germany, reporting of a suspected or known sexual crime is not mandatory for clinicians, so privacy is completely
assured. Denmark was mentioned especially because of the use of AAT if needed,
for sex offenders serving a long prison sentence (more than 5 years) as a
condition for release with supervision. Of course, AAT is part of the overall
management of the case. Indeed, only in Poland and Czech Republic (and 8
American states), is chemical castration part of a sentence, (i.e., is intended
as a punishment, and not as a therapy administered as part of
a complex treatment).
Col. Giorgio Stefano Manzi, Carabinieri Force, now Professor of Criminology
at the Superior School of Carabinieri, has been professionally involved for
many years in the fight against child abuse. The focus of his presentation was on
the importance of contrasting the cultural justification of child abuse. He
spoke about the so-called Pedophiles’ Party in the Netherlands, NAMBLA in the
USA, the Ganymede Collection in Canada, the Lolita Grupo in Spain – associations
aimed at making child sexual abuse look “normal” and expressing the right of
boys and girls to enjoy sex at any age.
He also named the Utrecht Convention (1974) where families of the victims
were invited to support the relationship between the child and his/her abuser,
as part of his/her healthy development. The boundary between freedom of expression – a core
value of EU legislation – and criminal solicitation is always a slippery one. Since
2012, according to the Lanzarote Convention against child abuse, the Italian Penal
Code (Art. 414bis) specifically punishes the solicitation of pedophilia and
child pornography, even if justified by ‘historical’ or ‘cultural’ reasons.
This is a powerful tool to contrast the cultural normalization of child abuse,
which is often used by sexual offenders to rationalize child sexual abuse.
The contribution of Judge Anna Maria Gatto was not exactly a presentation;
rather it was the story of a change of perspective and a painful growing of
awareness. “Every time that, as a judge, I was dealing with cases of sexual
abuse…when giving my sentence what I would think was the title of that book of
yours: Let’s throw the keys away!” She was referring to a book written a few
years ago by me and my colleague Paolo Giulini, about the program held in
Milano-Bollate prison by C.I.P.M., Centro Italiano per la Promozione Della
Mediazione (a program which remains one of the few Italian examples of sex
offender treatment). The title was “Buttare la chiave?” or “(Nothing to do but)
Throw the keys away?”
Gatto went on to say, “But one day I was invited by Paolo to participate in
a treatment group. And then something changed in me: What I was used to hearing
in court was, “But I didn’t do it!” and now, here is one of these guys saying,
“My name is XY, I’m here because I sexually abused my partner’s teen daughter.”
And I realized that they CAN change, and something can be done to foster this
This awareness, nevertheless, was also a painful one, because the
institutional approach to this issue is still only based on punishment, and the
judge has no means to mandate what our Constitution says in Art. 27: “All criminal
sanctions should have the aim of rehabilitating the offenders.” The lack of
treatment programs, of facilities for very high risk or psychiatric offenders, of
funding, of supervision/support after release, prevents any sort of rehabilitation. “And,” Gatto concluded, “lucky for me I’m 67 and about to retire! When I
chose to be a judge, never would I have thought that one day, I would be
supposed to sentence someone to chemical castration without having any medical
The last speaker of the morning was Gloria Soavi, President of CISMAI, a
network of associations aimed to protect and treat the victims of child
abuse. She spoke about how the issue of child abuse, especially sexual
abuse, is still one of denial and minimization. No public data are available.
Soavi said that the only Italian research about the occurrence and frequency of
child abuse has been conducted by two private associations, CISMAI and Terre
des Hommes, and not by a public institution.
Child abuse pops up in newspapers when a single, especially cruel crime
draws public attention, followed by demands for the punishment of the “ogres.”
Sometimes, stricter legislation is the consequence, but more often than not
everything is forgotten… until a new case is in the spotlight. Public (and
political) attitude toward sexual abuse vacillates between calling for the
death penalty and denial of the occurrence of sexual abuse. What is lacking,
Soavi said, is a cultural awareness of trauma and its consequences, and that
sexual abuse is preventable.
The first roundtable was chaired by the criminologist Paolo Giulini, Secretary
of CoNTRAS-TI. Some Italian experiences of research and treatment were
presented. Amelia Ciompi (Prison Administration Department) presented the
result of a recent survey about sexual offenders convicted in Italian prisons.
Considering that some offenders are convicted for several sexual crimes, their
number can be estimated around 3,000, which is a small number, given the
results of other surveys about sexual victimization, against both women
(est.1,369,000 in the last 5 years) and children (7-10% per year according to
CISMAI). Ciompi stressed some well-known critical issues – lack of funds, lack
of training, and prison overcrowding – and presented the 15 treatment programs
operating in Italy so far. It’s worth saying that only 5 of them are using
validated risk assessment tools.
After Amelia Ciompi were two clinical presentations: Davide Dettore
(University of Florence) explained his (cognitive-behavioral) model for the
treatment of internet sexual offenders, and Dante Ghezzi (TIAMA, Milan) addressed the
topic of juvenile sex offenders and presented a clinical case.
Sara Veggi (University of Turin) presented, on behalf of Georgia
Zara, the Italian validation and translation of the CID-SO, a tool for
denial assessment in sexual offenders developed by Sandy Jung. Finally, two of
the programs inspired by international guidelines using risk assessment tools
were presented. Maura Garombo described the Vercelli prison program, an Italian
adaptation of the British SOTP. As an experimental adjunctive treatment, participants
also received EMDR group treatment, as developed by Artigas and colleagues (2009).
The results of this innovative approach, though not published, are nevertheless
encouraging. Andrea Scotti explained the C.I.P.M. model of treatment
(Prison of Milan Bollate and Community of Milan) as an integrated program aimed
at the healthy reintegration of an offender in his community, thanks to a
careful assessment of risk and protective factors. The role of COSA (Circles of
Support and Accountability) was also described.
The focus of the second roundtable, chaired by the journalist Piero
Colaprico (La Repubblica), was the public perception of sexual offending and
the role of media in presenting either a distorted or accurate view. The
participants were criminologist Francesca Garbarino; journalist Paolo
Lambruschi (L’Avvenire); Paolo Colonnello, President of the Journalist’s
Disciplinary Board of Milan Region; and director Claudio Casazza, who shot a
documentary movie about the treatment program of Milan-Bollate prison. All
participants agreed about the harmful effects of spreading hate and fear through
the oversimplification of complex issues, instead of a culture of prevention
and rehabilitation. A different kind of public communication is possible, as
Claudio Casazza illustrated with his documentary, a simple registration of an
entire year of group work of 15 sex offenders in a prison ward, whose (not
explicit, but clear) message is that change is neither easy nor
straightforward, but is possible.
And this is exactly the conclusion we can draw from our conference: Even in
Italy, even in a political situation more and more intolerant and populist,
even with a dramatic lack of funds, things can slowly change. Laura Emiletti
closed the conference, announcing the next steps of CoNTRAS-TI, which are: creating
a website with general information and special resources for members, editing
and publishing the conference’s proceedings, strengthening the bonds with ATSA
and other international associations, and promoting CoNTRAS-TI over the media
and social networks.
The next conference was also announced, which will be held in Florence in
Artigas L., Jarero I., Alcald N., & Lopez Cano T. M. (2009).The EMDR
Integrative Group Treatment Protocol (IGPT). In Luber M. (Ed.), EMDR Scripted Protocols. Basic and Special
Situations. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
 in English:
National Coordination of Treatment and Research about Sexual Offending –
Italian Experiences, and the acronym can be translated in Pathways to stop it)
Registration and disclosure: Lessons learned or same old song and dance?
Katherine Gotch, Margret Anne Laws, Karla Lopez, and Kieran McCartan
The management of people who have committed sexual offences differs by country; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States, have a large base of related policies and practices. In contrast, Italy and Sweden for example have little to no official policies (See special edition of Sexual Offender Treatment, 2018, for a discussion of these policies and practices in 12 countries). The issue of sexual abuse is however, a global socio-political one meaning that, despite international differences in policy and practice surrounding sexual abuse, the creation and implementation of these policies in practice are always politically sensitive. This is particularly relevant for policies and practices related to the registration and community notification (“disclosure”) of information relating to people who have committed sexual offences.
Registration and community notification laws (i.e., the public dissemination of information on individuals who have committed sexual abuse) originated in the USA, with the register evolving over several decades from the first establishment of a California state sex offender register in 1947 up to the federal Adam Walsh Act in 2006 (Thomas, 2012). The central tenants of registration and community notification are public protection, safeguarding and risk management. Registration pertains to the collection and storage of information about people convicted of sexual offenses (e.g., physical home address, place of employment) by law enforcement and related criminal justice organisations so they can effectively monitor these individuals in the community. In contrast, the primary goal of community notification allows for some or all of the information on the registry to be made available to the public with the goal that members of the public can better safeguard and protect themselves and their families from victimisation by people convicted of sexual offences living in their community.
Internationally, registration is more common than community notification and most variants of the register contain the same information; however, many of the registries in the USA are far more detailed than their international counterparts, typically including name, address, work information, social security, contact details, bank details and travel documentation (Thomas, 2012; SMART office, 2016). Additionally, not all countries have a register (e.g., Denmark., Italy, Pakistan , Sweden, and Switzerland) and those that have a register do not use registration in the same way, with some countries having a national register (i.e., Canada, France, Kenya, India, Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Pitcairn Island, South Africa, New Zealand, UK, and Jamaica) while others have regional but not national registries (i.e., Australia). In general, registration policies and practices are under-researched in most countries and are politically driven, populist and not based on evidence-based practice. The research that does exist (mainly from the UK, USA and Canada) indicates that, although popular with law enforcement, registration practices do not actually impact the prevention of sexual abuse (Hoggett, McCartan, & O’Sullivan, 2019; McCartan, Hoggett & O’Sullivan, 2018; Harris, Lobanov-Rostovsky & Levenson, 2016).
In developing an evidenced based approach to the creation of their registers, New Zealand and Australia have developed innovative practices. The New Zealand register was developed on the basis that a Risk Management Framework (RMF) would be pivotal to its success in reducing recidivism. The design of the New Zealand register has been informed by international best practice, with measures in place to mitigate some of the risks that have been identified in other jurisdictions such as human rights and privacy concerns, maintenance costs, and the possibility of stigmatising offenders which can have the effect of increasing risk for re-offending (Willis & Grace, 2009). Few jurisdictions employ a comprehensive RMF (e.g., UK and Victoria, Australia) which makes the New Zealand register innovative and different from most other registers internationally. As the RMF is grounded in the ‘risk-need-responsivity model’ (Bonta & Andrews, 2018), persons on the register are being managed according to assessed risk and not according to the offence committed (Purvis, Ward & Shaw, 2013). In addition, the ‘Good Lives Model’ principles have been incorporated into the New Zealand register operational policy and staff training, resulting in a register that is strengths based. In this respect, those persons on the Register are referred to as registered persons and are viewed inherently as human beings first and foremost whom all seek the attainment of primary human goods. This translates into a strengths-based case management practice which balances the need to manage risk with the needs and wants of those persons on the Register. The RMF is jointly developed and collaboratively administered by the Department of Corrections and New Zealand Police as this was foreseen as being pivotal to the success of the Register in reducing reoffending (Duwe & Donnay 2008; Peck, 2011).
In Australia, all jurisdictions operate a registration scheme administered by their state police service. In all states, the focus is on child protection, thus registrants have generally committed sexual or serious other offences against children. Victoria is the only state which holds a sex offender register, where persons having committed sexual crimes against adults may also be subject to registration. Judicial discretion is applied where a person convicted of a sexual crime is deemed to represent a risk to the sexual safety of members of the community. Since 2011, Victoria has undertaken significant reform to the management of their sex offender register. The Act stipulates as one of its purposes, to reduce the likelihood of reoffending, which has led to efforts to identify those posing the greatest risk to the community. Significant investment has led to the establishment of an offender management framework incorporating actuarial and dynamic risk assessment which culminates in an offender management plan. In order to manage offenders posing a risk to the community, police aim to direct finite resources towards risk relevant behaviour and needs of registered offenders. An evidence-based model has facilitated crime-prevention practices using a language system that facilitates inter-agency and intra-agency communication and consultation about the most suitable interventions and interveners.
Victoria police has additionally invested in research (in academic partnership with Professor Doug Boer at the University of Canberra) to develop an evidence-based assessment tool (SHARP dynamic sexual risk protocol – Lopez, Boer, Kirby & Davies, 2018; 2019). The tool enables police to use internal data, external reports and behavioural observation of offenders to activate meaningful risk mitigation actions, without disrupting rehabilitative goals. More recently, the use of machine learning models has been employed to automate the task of identifying registrants posing the greatest risk. Using artificial intelligence, the tool is able to appropriately weight factors known in the literature and factors arising from the volumes of data, as risk-relevant. This reduces the need for human intervention to determine who is the most likely to reoffend and allows finite police resources to focus on disruption and intervention with the aim ultimately being to prevent further sexual abuse.
Australia is moving towards more comprehensive frameworks around registration, potentially at a national level, but these evidence-based interventions are supported at a state level and will likely evolve with inter-jurisdictional collaboration. However, commonwealth legislation has the potential to threaten efficacy of state-based initiatives with moves towards restriction and public notification despite the lack of empirical evidence to support it. For instance, 2017 saw the introduction of Commonwealth legislation making it an offence for an Australian Citizen (subject to registration) to attempt to depart Australia without permission, even if they still have a valid passport and even if a Competent Authority (state police service) has decided not to request that their passport be cancelled (Passport Legislation Amendment: Overseas travel by child sex offenders, 2017). In 2019, the federal Government also allocated $7.8 million to the project of instating “a name and shame register for convicted paedophiles” which would potentially bring Australia more in line with other countries, such as the UK, which has overseas travel restrictions linked to registration and a limited disclosure scheme; New Zealand that has a limited disclosure scheme; and the USA which has full community notification and international Megan’s law (i.e., an American Criminal Justice policy that limits international travel for people convicted of a sexual offence placed on the register). Which begs the question, of where does Australia want to position itself, to be more moderate like the UK and New Zealand or be more punitive like the USA?
Often seen as synonymous, registration and community notification are not the same thing and the latter is not automatically an extension of the former. Only the USA has compulsory, fully accessible community notification, whereas other countries have limited or partial community notification (e.g., UK and Western Australia) or no notification at all (e.g., Netherlands). In the USA community notification is not evidence based or evidence informed as existing research and practice indicates that it does little to prevent sexual abuse or recidivism (Letourneau, Levenson, Bandyopadhyay, Sinha, & Armstrong, 2010; Levenson & Zgoba, 2015; Levenson, Grady & Leibowitz, 2016; Sandler et al., 2008; Veysey, Zgoba, & Dalessandro, 2008; Zgoba, Veysey, & Dalessandro, 2010). Research has also shown that community notification as practiced in the USA often disrupts successful community reintegration by creating destabilization and isolation from prosocial support networks and resources such as treatment (Levenson & Cotter, 2005; Levenson, D'Amora, & Hern, 2007; Mercado, Alvarez, & Levenson, 2008; Tewksbury, 2005; Zevitz & Farkas, 2000). In most other countries, including the UK, community notification is often rejected on public protection, risk management and/or human rights grounds (Kemshall et al, 2012; Thomas, 2012), as well as for the lack of efficacy and myriad of unintended consequences resulting from public disclosure (Fitch, 2006; Kemshall & Weaver, 2012). The UK version of public disclosure is evidence based and research informed, consisting of partial community notification with safeguards built in whereby concerned parents/primary caregivers can ask for information relating to specific individuals who meet their children (Kemshall et al, 2010; Chan et al, 2010; O’Sullivan, Hoggett, McCartan & Kemshall, 2016). The information on the UK register is tightly controlled, closely monitored and disclosed to members of the public with caution. While professionals, mainly police and probation staff, value the data on the register, find it useful and that it aids them in their role, they are also against public dissemination of that information as it increases (as opposed to decreases) recidivism risk (See Sex Offender Treatment, 2018; McCartan et al, 2019; O’Sullivan, Hoggett, McCartan & Kemshall, 2016).
In New Zealand the register does not have a community notification component, whereas in Australia it depends upon the jurisdiction. In Western Australia there is the limited public disclosure of information relating to released adult child sex offenders, which was introduced in response to public outcry following the sexual homicide of a seven-year-old girl in 2006 (Whitting, Day & Powell, 2016). This scheme provides a three tiered approach providing (1) Information on missing sex offenders; (2) a local search facility that allows members of the public to search their local area (by postcode) for Dangerous sexual offenders, Serious repeat reportable offenders and Persons who have been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for 5 years or more; and (3) parents or guardians with the option to enquire on whether or not a person of interest, who has regular unsupervised contact with their child, is a reportable offender. Whereas in Victoria, it is a criminal offence to publish information about registered offenders “if the person knows, or ought reasonably to know that the publication would create, promote or increase animosity toward, or harassment of, a person identified” (Sex Offender Registration Act, 2004). However, authorised personnel may disclose information in the Register to a government department, public statutory authority or court for the purpose of law enforcement which is defined as: prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or punishment of criminal offences. Recent amendments to the Act allow the enactment of publication orders in cases where registered persons have failed to report their whereabouts to police. The threshold for publication is reached once all relevant inquiries have been conducted by police without locating the registered person.
Currently there is no transnational version of the “sex offender” register, although most countries have travel restrictions (e.g., International Megan’s law in the USA, travel notification schemes in the UK) and data sharing agreements with other countries specific to individuals convicted of sexual crimes. The intent of these laws is to stop people who have been convicted of sexual offenses from going abroad and reoffending, as well as reduce tourism for the purposes of child sexual abuse and/or exploitation. There have been calls for an international register and database from some professional organisations, but these have not been viable or followed through successfully given the between-country inconsistencies in registration and/or disclosure practices (Thomas, 2012). Recently, in response to a series of international aid and sexual abuse scandals involving UK charities, the UK government and Interpol have started work together in developing a potential international register for foreign aid/charity workers with a history of child sexual abuse perpetration (The Week, 2018).
CONCLUSIONS AND CONSIDERATIONS
The registration of people convicted of a sexual offence may have started in the USA, but it is clear that, as the rationale and process has evolved internationally over the past 50 years, the American version is an outlier and has not become the global template. Different countries have developed their own rationale and structure to sex-offender registration that are less punitive, more practical, risk oriented and innovative in nature. In essence, these other countries have seemingly learnt from the unintended consequences and issues that emerged from the American system. America is a as a cautionary tale regarding the registration and disclosure of information related to those convicted of a sexual offences and, therefore no other country has implemented the same systems and policies regardless of how much they may flirt with them. In closing, a point to consider is whether America, as the exception rather than the rule in respect to registration and disclosure, can reflect upon its own experiences and learn from emerging international best practice?
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International members survey 2018 part 1: Practitioner knowledge, training and experience
Kieran McCartan, Kasia Uzieblo, and Wineke J. Smid
Sexual abuse is recognised as a
local, national, and transnational issue (National Sexual Harm Resource Center, 2016; UNICEF, 2014). The increased global socio-political
recognition of sexual abuse corresponds to several inter-related factors
including increased investment in sexual violence education, increased
reporting of historical cases, and a growing recognition that anyone can be a
victim or perpetrator of sexual violence. Internationally over the past decade,
in particular, we have seen a rise in the reporting of sexual abuse, current
and historical, linked to institutions, sports clubs, charities, college
campuses, and the church (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2017; Tabachnick,
McCartan, & Panero, 2016; Vertommen, Kampen, Schipper-van Veldhoven,
Uzieblo, & Van Den Eede, 2018), and an increased media profile of sexual violence
(Harper & Hogue, 2017). Interestingly, although sexual abuse is an
international issue, there has not been a lot of comparative research into the
contexts and locations where it occurs internationally. Research also suggests
that sexual violence reporting and conviction rates vary widely between and
within countries, and are dependent on the size, culture, and economic status
of the country (World Health Organization, 2014; UNICEF, 2014; see the special edition of Sexual Offender Treatment, 2018 for a broader international
Leading on from this
is the need to better understand the reality of the sentencing, treatment,
management, and integration of people who have been convicted of a sexual
offence globally. As with other aspects of sexual abuse, this is relatively
unknown. The impact of westernised, Anglophone research and practice on the
field of sexual abuse is well documented, with much modern practice, or at
least the international documentation thereof, based upon work from Canada, UK,
USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and a lot of policies built off the back
what works, and what does not, in the USA. It is important to understand and
recognise what practices and policies different countries engage in related to
sexual offending and the people who are convicted of these offences in the
current era of global travel and risk management.
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) is an international
organisation that spans approximately 20 countries (including Canada, UK,
Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and South
Africa, to name a few) with more than 300 international, non-American members. The ATSA international committee believed that capturing a
snapshot of differing international practices in the field of sexual abuse was
important and relevant. Building off the back of a successful international
roundtable on risk management at the 2017 Kansas City ATSA conference and the
resulting international special edition of Sexual
Offender Treatment (the IATSO Journal), we decided to carry out a multi-country
study on the attitudes towards the prevention of sexual abuse in professionals
and their understanding of the societal attitudes and current prevention practices.
Aims, methods, and analysis
research focused on professionals’
attitudes to working in the field of sexual abuse and the related policies,
practices, and outcomes. The research was conducted through a mixed methods
online survey, with 68 English-based
questions (including closed-ended, open-ended, and Likert scale response
options), which took approximately 30 minutes to complete. The sampling frame
was a purposive and opportunity sample of ATSA
international members (i.e., those not from the USA). Participants were recruited
via direct emails and the ATSA listserv (Robson & McCartan, 2016) between
mid-March and the end of May 2018. Recruitment resulted in 74 respondents, 25%
of the ATSA international base and 3% of the organisation’s overall membership
in the year ending 2018. The majority of respondents were from westernised,
northern hemisphere Anglophone countries (see Table 1), which reflected the
overall demographics of the organisation’s international membership.
Table 1: Sample size by
country of employment.
Country of Employment
addition, the participants were affiliated with a number or organisations, with
some participants being a member of two or more additional professional
associations, including NOTA (5 participants, 6%), IATSO (16 participants,
22%), ANZATSA (11 participants, 15%) NL-ATSA (2 participants, 3%), and CoNTRAST.TI
(9 participants, 12%). Most of the participants (i.e., 37 participants, or 50%)
were therapists or worked in treatment settings (Table 2). The sample reflected
the range of international members affiliated with ATSA (Table 1).
Table 2: Sample by role and country of employment
Country of residence
Belgium, Canada, UK
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany Ireland Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Switzerland, UK
Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan
Canada, Netherlands, Singapore
Other organisation (1)
LEVEL OF QUALIFICATION REQUIRED TO WORK WITH PERPERATORS
OF SEXUAL ABUSE
When asked about
the level of qualification needed to work with people convicted of a sexual
offence, participants stated that, in the main, a university qualification was
needed to work with adults (graduate degree, n=25, 34%; post graduate
degree, n=19, 26%) and/or juveniles (graduate degree, n=24, 32%;
post-graduate degree, n=20, 27%). Interestingly, the required level of
qualification did not change by country. Rather, it depended on their role and
who their employer was.
depends on what 'work' means (the sector). For giving treatment, a master's
degree and postdoctoral
qualification is necessary. For other job types employer supplied trainings are necessary but not a master’s degree.”
varies as we have department staff who have bachelor degrees but they work
alongside a psych (masters and
above). We also have NGO's that work with SO's in the community. I'm not sure what level they require.” (New
In terms of
additional training or ongoing professional development, all the participants
indicated that this was required. However, the scale and nature of required
additional training varied internationally. The participants indicated that
they (n=16, 22%), their employers (n=19, 26%), or relevant 3rd
party organisations (n=22, 30%) were responsible for supplying relevant
training. However, half of the
participants (n=37, 50%) from across 11 countries
felt that it was not easy to access the training they needed or the funding to
specialists seem to be from overseas making it costly and rare to be trained by
to our remote location this can be a problem but we have taken advantage, when
we can, of webinars (such as
NEARI press), ANSATA conferences and other ATSA members who have delivered to us via AVL.” (New
easy to find in Italy, need to travel abroad to access proper training.”
ACCESS TO TRAINING AND RESOURCES
participants (n=60, 82%) found it easy to access resources in their own
language, but this is potentially skewed as 46 participants listed English as
their main language and this is the language that most sexual-abuse-related
material is published in (especially journals and books). Those that did not
list English as their mother tongue – participants who mainly spoke French,
Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Spanish, and Swedish – found it most challenging to
access resources, especially journal articles and text-based resources.
EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF WORKING IN
THE FIELD OF SEXUAL ABUSE
participants (n=44, 64%) from across all 16 countries sampled believed
that it was emotionally challenging to work with people convicted of a sexual
offence, with a sizable proportion (n=40, 54%) believing that their
employer offered them appropriate support. However, a smaller proportion did
not (n=17, 23%). In addition, a similar majority of participants (n=41,
56%) from across all 16 countries believed that it was psychologically
challenging to work with people convicted of a sexual offence, with many
participants (n=39, 52%) believing their employer offered psychological
support, but, again, there was a group (n=15, 18%) that did not.
Interestingly, in both cases, most of the participants who did not feel
supported by their employers came from Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico, and the UK.
Participants discussed what resources they had access to for emotional and
psychological support in their working life and these resources were similar
transnationally (i.e., counselling, peer support, and formal supervision).
used some form of risk assessment with people convicted of a sexual offence and
they seemed to draw from the same pool of resources (Table 3). Most of the
participants (n=41, 55%) across all 16 countries indicated that the type
of sex offender risk assessment tool being used can change with the
organisation conducting the assessment and that, although there was a perceived
gold standard, it was not consistently used. A sizable proportion of
participants across all countries believed that the outcome of risk assessments
played a central role in judicial decision-making (n=32, 39%),
sentencing (n=28, 34%), and treatment decisions (n=42, 51%).
Table 3: Risk Assessment tool by country of employment
Risk assessment Tool
Static -- 99/R
Australia, New Zealand, UK, Denmark, Canada, Israel, Netherlands
Australia, New Zealand
Stable & Acute
Australia, New Zealand, Germany, UK, Ireland,
Netherlands, Israel, Canada
Australia, Italy, Ireland
Australia, New Zealand
SENTENCING OF PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE
section of the participants from across all 16 countries stated that their
countries had sentencing guidelines for child sexual abuse (n=37, 50%), rape
(n=38, 53%), and downloading child sexual abuse imagery (n=38, 53%).
However, this was not the case when it came to child prostitution (n=29,
40%), grooming (n=32, 48%) and trafficking (n=29, 35%). Sentencing guidelines across all 16 countries
were quite varied:
- A contact offence, against an
adult or a child: 2-10 years;
- Grooming: 0-5 years;
- Downloading, distributing, and
viewing child sexual abuse imagery: 0-10 years;
- Trafficking of children: 5-20
years (but in Ireland and Sweden it could be lower than 5 years); and
- Child prostitution: 0-30 years,
but several countries fell between 4-7 years.
most participants felt that the current sentences surrounding sexual abuse and
related offences were not appropriate (n=43, 52%) for numerous reasons.
they are often not informed by risk and treatment needs.” (Australia)
disproportionate sentences between adult sex offences and child sex offences,
you can commit one rape of an adult
and receive a 10y+ sentence and rape a child daily for years and receive a 4-5 year sentence.” (New Zealand)
“They’re incongruent differs a lot depending on which town or region
that handles the trial.” (Sweden)
TREATMENT OF PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE
had some form of sex offender treatment, all of which were based upon Cognitive
Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Good Lives Model, and/or risk-based ideologies.
“Adults: Good Lives Model, Jenkin's Invitational Model, CBT,
Motivational Interviewing. Adolescents:
Jenkins Invitational Model, Eco-systemic model involving family members as an integral part of intervention (sometimes
receiving more counselling than the young person).” (Australia)
prevention model, RNR-model, so-called Marshall-groups (based on the treatment model developed by Bill Marshall), in
the last few years more and more: the GLM." (Germany)
work psychotherapeutic; this means we use the individual story of what the
client tells us, it is our main
and essential approach.” (Belgium)
countries had an approach to sex offender treatment, in some countries this was
more formalised and structured than in others.
main approach - we are working on a research project that examines the
different types of treatment of sexual
offenders in Denmark.” (Denmark)
treatment programs were run in different ways across each country, with some
being delivered by the state, some by private companies, some by specialists,
and others by basically trained providers.
a government organisation we provide weekly free therapy, only in exceptional
cases clients go to a private
or private bodies through public funding (national or European calls).”
on location (community/prison). Can vary from program officers in federal custody settings, to social workers and
psychologists outside that setting.” (Canada)
highlighted that there are many similarities but also many differences
internationally in professional practice in the assessment, management, and
integration back into the community of people convicted of a sexual offence. The
research demonstrates similarities and differences in international practices
and policies, reinforcing the need to work more coherently together and share
current practice. One of the main issues highlighted by the data is the
international inconsistencies in the level of qualifications and training
needed to work within the field of sexual abuse, which is particularly
startling given the fact that most of the risk assessments, treatments, and
interventions are the same. This raises the question of the importance of
continued staff development, employer investment, and staff expertise, which
becomes important when we consider the high-profile socio-political nature of
sexual abuse. (See Part 2, and the personal and professional fallout from poor
In Part 2 of
this article we focus on practitioners’ attitudes to community integration,
focusing on their understandings of public attitudes, community management
policies, and the prevention of sexual abuse.
For references, please see Part 2.
 “Other organisation” is a company that works with people convicted
of a sexual offence who are not part of the state provision. They maybe a
charity (i.e., Circles of Support and Accountability) or a private, for-profit
International members survey 2018 part 2: Practitioners attitudes to and understandings of community integration
Kieran McCartan, Kasia Uzieblo, and Wineke J. Smid
In Part 1 of this 2-part piece we focused on practitioners’ experiences of working in the field of sexual abuse. In this article we are going to focus on ATSA international members’ understandings and attitudes about the community integration of people convicted of a sexual offence. The article will focus on participants’ understandings of public attitudes, community management policies, and the prevention of sexual abuse. For a discussion of the context of the research, please see Part 1.
Aims, methods, and analysis
The research focused on professionals’ attitudes to working in the field of sexual abuse and the related policies, practices, and outcomes. The research was conducted through a mixed methods online survey. The sampling frame was a purposive and opportunity sample of ATSA international members (i.e., those not from the USA), and resulted in 74 respondents, 25% of the ATSA international base and 3% of the organisation’s overall membership in the year ending 2018. Respondents represented 16 countries and worked in various professions and settings. For a full explanation of the aims, methods, and analysis, please see Part 1.
PUBLIC AND MEDIA UNDERSTANDING OF SEXUAL ABUSE
Across all the countries, every participant felt that the public and the media had a poor understanding of the reality of sexual abuse, who victims of sexual abuse were, and who the people who perpetrated sexual abuse are.
“All kinds of prejudice, monsters etc...public discussion is always highly polemic and emotional.” (Germany)
“As monsters, as untreatable, as persistent dangerous.” (Switzerland)
“Mixed, generally a lack of knowledge around risk, re-offending rates, treatment needs and re-integration needs.” (New Zealand)
“A lot of attention is drawn to big cases that are broadly discussed in the public. This results in strong opinions on sex offenders in general. There is a big difference with how people deal with sexual abuse when it occurs nearby.” (Belgium)
“Driven by political agendas of "tough on crime" and moral panic often driven by media reporting.” (Australia)
The participants viewed the public’s and media’s understanding of sexual abuse to be interrelated and co-dependent.
“Depending on the medium. Serious media occasionally brings a balanced picture, but often the media brings the popular and inflammatory picture.” (Netherlands)
“Some consider them having committed heinous crimes, but there has been more public education about sexual crimes, treatment services and base rates of offending recently.” (Singapore)
"People do not like these types of offenders, however when given more information, often attitudes and emotional reactions shift.” (Canada)
POLICIES LINKED TO THE MANAGEMENT OF PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE
- 13 countries did not use the polygraph, with only the UK and Belgium using it, albeit in different ways (e.g., in court, in treatment, etc.);
- 14 countries had mandatory reporting laws, with Germany, Belgium, Italy, and New Zealand not having them;
- 8 countries had a sex offender register, although they were differently structured in each country, with Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium not having one;
- 5 countries (New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Switzerland, UK, and Canada) had some form of public notification/disclosure, although it was different in each country;
- 10 countries had sex offender residence restrictions, excluding Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland;
- 4 countries (Switzerland, Australia, UK, and Canada) had sex offender travel orders;
- 14 countries required compulsory safeguarding and background checks linked to employment, excluding Italy and Japan; and
14 countries stated that their country did not have any victim/memorandum laws, with only Australia and Canada using them.
THE MANAGEMENT OF PEOPLE CONVICTED OF A SEXUAL OFFENCE
Individuals across all the countries sampled stated that all individuals convicted of a sexual offence were managed by the criminal justice system only. But there were a few exceptions, mainly in Denmark (i.e., criminal justice system, forensic services, and sexology clinics) and Germany (i.e., criminal justice system and social services). Participants in the main, and across all 16 countries, believed that their government’s approach to sexual abuse was punitive (n=45, 61%), with fewer respondents thinking that their governments were rehabilitative (n=31 participants, 38%) or preventative (n=18, 24%). Additionally, participants from 15 countries, excluding Puerto Rico and Switzerland, stated that they used a multi-agency approach to sex offender management.
“Depending on the treatment needs of the offender, different agencies are involved (i.e., Probation officer, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker).” (Belgium)
“Integrated database is used by prosecutors, corrections and probation offices. Information of child sexual abusers is provided to the local police agency at the time of their release from correctional institutions.” (Japan)
ALTERNATIVES TO TRADITIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE APPROACHES
When asked about alternative approaches to traditional management of those convicted of a sexual offence, a minority of participants (n=13, 18%, across 9 countries) said that Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) was available, or that they were at least looking into applying this preventative model. Other alternatives included:
“An interesting alternative approach is the secondary prevention treatment program "Dunkelfeld" which aims to provide treatment for persons who are afraid to become a sexual offender (child molester) but who have not committed a crime until now.” (Germany)
“Educational/behavioural therapy, psychoanalytic, systemic/family therapy, play and creative therapy.” (Belgium)
PREVENTION OF SEXUAL ABUSE
All participants understood the prevention of sexual abuse and had a similar, coherent idea of what it was, but they all believed that more could be done to develop it more fully and to better educate society (and sometimes their colleagues) about it. Some needs that were emphasized were:
“Preventing sexual abuse from ever happening, but also preventing it will happen again if it already happened.” (Belgium)
“I think we have to differentiate between primary (avoid occurrence of sexual abusive behaviour), secondary (helping at-risk persons), tertiary (avoiding recidivism), and quaternary (avoiding unnecessary and excessive treatment) prevention.” (Germany)
“Educating the public, proper policing, rehabilitation of offenders.” (Israel)
Several countries had prevention programs already in place (Table 4).
Table 4: Prevention programs by country of employment
A number offered by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection; "Don't Be That Guy" campaign; Stop it now!
Body Safe; Sex'n'Respect; Netsafe's Hector's World; Keeping Ourselves Safe; Kid Power; Teen Power; mated and dates; strangers danger; it's our business
CASA; NSW Department of Education includes a protective behaviour component in the school curriculum, in high schools there are programs targeting the promotion of healthy relationships (e.g. "Love Bites" and sex and ethics programs)
Danish Sexual Offender Treatment and Research Program (DASOP)
Dunkelfeld; Kein Täterwerden
Lucy Faithful; STOPso; Prevent; Stop it now!
This paper demonstrates that, despite the fact that practitioners internationally face different socio-political landscapes, the management of people who have been convicted of sexual offences remains a high profile issue. The participants felt that the public and the media did not have a good understanding of sexual abuse, its causes, or consequences, which feeds, unfortunately, into some problematic policies. While policies relating to the management of people convicted of a sexual offence changed country to country, as risk assessment and treatment did in Part 1, nowhere was as punitive or risk averse as the USA. The research shows that, although discussions around the prevention of sexual abuse are growing internationally, participants do not feel they have become as mainstream as they would like and do not receive the financial or political support they feel are warranted. Although the sample was small, and the research had some challenges (e.g., that English was the language used, that not all international members were on the listserv, and that the same terminology was not used transnationally), it gives us some understanding of the issues and a good starting point to address them. We aim to rerun the survey, or an adapted version, again in the future to obtain more in-depth insights into the similarities and differences across countries, which is a central tenant of the work ATSA does. These findings, as with Part 1, demonstrate that the ways we prevent and respond to sexual abuse change internationally depending on context and culture. Therefore, fresh ideas, out-of-the-box thinking, and examples of good practice are out there.
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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): Exploring a new avenue for sex offender treatment
Wineke Smid, Nina ten Hoor, and Kasia Uzieblo
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
was developed more than 25 years ago by the American psychologist Francine
Shapiro (1991). EMDR is an interactive psychotherapy technique in which the
patient recalls a (negative) emotionally charged memory including the
accompanying images, thoughts, and feelings while s/he is instructed to perform
eye movements. The distractor stimuli are usually horizontal hand movements
that the patients must follow with their eyes, but these can also be sounds or
buzzers that are presented alternately left and right. The aim of the technique
is to reduce the vividness and emotional charge of the memories and to make it increasingly
easier to think back objectively to the original event.
Underlying EMDR is the Adaptive
Information-Processing (AIP) model (Shapiro, 2001). This model postulates that
adaptive resolution of experiences involves integration and using an individual’s experience in a constructive manner, as part of a positive
emotional and cognitive schema. When something traumatic happens, this process
is disrupted and the memory is stored in a way that incapacitates necessary
processing. The information remains available in a dysfunctional state, causing
additional stress to the system when triggered. After the initial storage of an
event (a process called consolidation), memories become malleable again during
recall, allowing for new learning processes to be re-encoded or re-written in
memory. Remembering a charged event in combination with the eye movements
ensures that the natural processing system is stimulated.
Another (additional) explanation for the effect of
EMDR is the working memory theory. Because of the limited capacity of the working
memory, the eye movements compete for the limited resources when emotive
memories are recalled, reducing their vividness and emotionality (Engelhard,
van Uijen, & Van den Hout, 2010; Van de Hout et al., 2011a; Van den Hout et.
al., 2011b). This offers the patient the opportunity to give the event a
EMDR is known foremost as an evidence-based and
first-line treatment for traumatic memories (Bisson et al., 2007; National
Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, 2005) that is mostly used to treat
people with PTSD and other trauma-related anxiety complaints – complaints that
have arisen as a direct result of a concrete, negative event, and where
thinking of the event still evokes a strong emotional response. One of the
basic assumptions in EMDR therapy is that most psychopathologies originate in
past trauma. The goal of EMDR is to transform the dysfunctional material or
residue from the past into something functional and useful (Shapiro, 2001). In
line with these assumptions, there is increasing evidence that emotionally
charged memories and images also play an important role in other psychological complaints
such as chronic pain, depression, eating disorders, addictions, and psychosis (Misiak, Krefft, Bielawski, Moustafa, Sąsiadek, & Frydecka,
2017). For this reason, EMDR is being used increasingly and in various
forms to counter these problems and disorders, usually as part of a broader
More experimental is the contribution of EMDR to the
treatment of addiction and compulsion. Miller (2010) developed the
Feeling-State Theory of impulse-control disorders, postulating that
impulse-control disorders develop when positive feelings become linked with
specific objects or behaviors. Together, these form a state-dependent memory,
called a ‘Feeling State.’ For example, a gambler had an intense need to belong.
After winning a lot of money playing poker, the camaraderie that he experienced
afterwards with his friends became linked with the behavior of playing poker.
Subsequently, whenever he wanted to experience the feeling of belonging, he
played poker. The fixated state consisting of a positive feeling (belonging)
linked with a behavior (playing poker) is called a feeling-state. Once established,
the feeling-state is relatively independent of its origin. When triggered, the
intensity of the associated emotions blocks further processing and renders the feeling-state
equally fixating as a traumatic memory. The assumption is that the strong urges
will disappear when the linked positive emotions are desensitized. This is
tantamount to a ‘reverse EMDR’, since it does not involve the desensitization
of negative (traumatic) memories, but instead the desensitization of positive
memories: memories that exert a strong attraction.
There are indications, mainly from clinical case
studies, that EMDR can indeed be applied to reduce unwanted positive emotions
that are linked to problematic behavior. EMDR has, for instance, been
successfully used in the treatment of alcohol and nicotine addiction (Hase,
Schallmayer, & Sack, 2008), compulsive eating (Halvgaard, 2015; Knipe,
2009), gambling addiction (Bae, Han, & Kim, 2015; Miller, 2010, 2012),
compulsive shopping (Popky, 2005), internet addiction (Bae & Kim, 2012),
and sex addiction (Cox & Howard, 2007). However, results are not unequivocally
positive. Some case studies found no positive results (Cecero & Caroll,
2000; Hornsveld, 2009), and a recent controlled clinical trial could not
confirm any promising effects of addiction focused EMDR in alcohol use disorder
(Markus, De Kruijk, De Weert- Van Oene, Becker & De Jong, 2019).
The aforementioned studies suggest that EMDR might
also be helpful in the treatment of sex offenders. There is ample evidence that
sex offenders often have traumatic experiences in their childhood (Levenson, Willis, & Prescott, 2016), and ‘classic’
EMDR can be used to alleviate the symptoms of these traumas (Ricci &
Clayton, 2008; Ricci, Clayton, & Shapiro, 2006). From this perspective,
EMDR would be an adjunctive therapy to address trauma as a responsivity issue (see
Risk-Need-Responsivity model; Andrews & Bonta, 2010), such that by
addressing comorbid trauma, one may be better able to benefit from treatment
for sexual offending. Indeed, we have been having positive experiences with
applying EMDR to tackle the PTSD symptoms in our forensic patients from Van der
Hoeven Clinic (Utrecht, the Netherlands), who have committed sexual offences. Some
small scale uncontrolled studies of patients who had offended against children
and who were themselves abused as children indicate that EMDR treatment,
focusing on their own victimization, led to a reduction in deviant sexual
arousal in the present (Ricci & Clayton, 2008; Ricci, Clayton, & Shapiro,
2006; Gaboraud, 2019). This is by no means conclusive
validation, but it certainly invites further inquiry. In practice, we also
sometimes encounter sex offenders who have committed very serious offenses
(e.g., murder), who are traumatized by their own offense. If this trauma
interferes with treatment responsiveness, EMDR may also be used in these cases.
Besides the common occurrence of childhood trauma,
about half of all sex offenders have substance use issues (Kraanen & Emmelkamp, 2011). If regular addiction
treatment fails, therapists might consider targeting these issues with the Millers
Feeling State protocol. More importantly, patients may describe their sexual
offending behavior itself as addictive or compulsive behavior that involves (overwhelming)
Feeling States, such as exhibitionism or child pornography consumption. Moreover,
the incentive motivational model (IMM; Smid & Wever, 2018) describes deviant
sexual arousal as the emotional enhancement of sexual arousal by means of the
deviant stimuli. This suggestion implies that Feeling States could be at the very
core of deviant sexual arousal and EMDR may help reduce this arousal.
To date, there are no published studies evaluating
the use of EMDR directly targeting deviant sexual arousal. But there are some
indications that this might work. In a recent laboratory experiment with 80
graduate students (Bartels, Harkins, Harrison, Beard, & Beech, 2018),
horizontal eye movements did reduce the vividness, positivity, and arousing
effect of both memory- and imagination-based sexual fantasies. In our clinical
practice at De Waag (outpatient) and Van der Hoeven Clinic (inpatient)
treatment centers in the Netherlands, we have had some promising experiences
with directly targeting deviant sexual arousal with EMDR. In order to advance
our knowledge regarding the utility of these techniques, we have started an RCT
assessing the effects of EMDR treatment of exhibitionists. We will be
presenting the preliminary results at the upcoming ATSA conference (T-2 in the
ATSA conference brochure: http://www.bit.ly/2NsNkUk).
All in all, there are several reasons to further explore
the use of EMDR in the treatment of sex offenders. An added bonus that facilitates
studying the efficacy of this treatment technique is that it is generally
short, 5 to 10 sessions, and few negative side effects appear to be reported
(Whitehouse, 2019). And although EMDR might not be applicable for everybody (for
instance some patients are unwilling or unable to get really involved in this
technique), there seem to be few contraindications for inclusion. Even patients
with various severe mental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (Lobregt-van
Buuren, Sizoo, Mevissen, & de Jongh, 2019), psychosis (Valiente-Gómez,
Moreno-Alcázar, Treen, Cedrón, Colom, Perez, & Amann, 2017), or
intellectual disabilities (Karatzias, et al., 2019) have been known to
successfully engage in EMDR treatment and benefit from it.
As we look forward to the results of our RCT, we
are also curious if any of our international colleagues have any ideas or
clinical experiences to share regarding the use of EMDR in sex offender treatment.
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Incel inside: Understanding involuntary celibates through dating app experiences
On April 23, 2018, Alek Minassian drove a
rented van into a crowd of pedestrians on a busy Toronto street, killing 10 and
injuring 16 others. Hours before the attack, the 25-year-old posted on Facebook
that “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” This was followed by praise for
“Supreme Gentleman” Elliot Rodger, the young man behind the 2014 Isla Vista
killings, who wrote a lengthy manifesto prior to his death expressing his
desire to seek retribution on women for rejecting him and on sexually active
men whom he envied. Seemingly overnight, a small, obscure subgroup of the
internet became the subject of considerable attention. Incels, short for
involuntary celibates, are a group of largely heterosexual men whose common
ground revolves around their rejection by women and a feeling that these same
women are responsible for shutting them out of the dating and sexual
While it is unfair to take the extreme
examples of Minassian and Rodger and assume they represent the entire incel
community, it does raise questions about the hostility that certain group
members may hold. It also raises questions about why a small number of people respond
to rejection – a universal experience – by joining incel communities, given
their negative reputation. With respect to thwarting one’s romantic or sexual
advances, it has been argued that, within the dating context, the traditional
male over female hierarchy is reversed, which may precipitate violent male
reactions (Buss, 2007). Indeed, Kelly, Dubbs, and Barlow (2015) note that men
higher in social dominance orientation (SDO; support for current societal
hierarchies) respond more aggressively and violently following romantic
rejection than those low in SDO. It has also been noted that men respond more
aggressively to rejection from sexualized women as a result of the latter’s
activation of sex goals (Blake, Bastian, & Denson, 2008). In other words,
men’s enhanced aggression was due, in part, to increases in their desire for or
expectation of a romantic or sexual engagement. Within the context of marriage,
the more time a wife spends with other men, the more anger and frustration the
husbands express when their sexual advances are rejected (DeLucce, Barbaro,
Mohamedally, & Shackleford, 2017). There have also been multiple
qualitative analyses of the aggressive responses women have faced when
dismissing men’s advances via text messages, which were uploaded to social
media accounts dedicated to the phenomenon (e.g., Bye Felipe, Tinder
Nightmares; Shaw, 2016; Thompson, 2018). Based on these (and other)
studies, it is clear that when faced with rejection, some men tend to respond
With this is mind, it is perhaps not
surprising that individuals who share similar experiences of rejection (and
reactions to it) may seek one another out. However, to answer some of the above
questions requires a well-developed body of literature, of which there
currently is none. With the recent quarantining of select incel groups on
Reddit, it is even difficult to determine the prevalence of incels.
Nevertheless, the subreddit r/IncelsWithoutHate has over 9,400 members, while
r/AskAnIncel has over 3,400 members. The website incels.co has just under
10,000 registered members and over 1.9 million messages on its main series of
threads. Given that these platforms are all based online, it is perhaps natural
to conclude that the internet has facilitated these connections. Such
conclusions would be difficult to disprove, but also miss an important
intersection between the digital age, incels, and rejection: dating apps.
Roughly one quarter of young adults have
used a dating application, such as Tinder, which now boasts over 50 million
users in the U.S. alone (Smith, 2016; Tinder, 2019). Available in more than 190
countries, Tinder reports that their users collectively go on 1 million dates
per week. For those unfamiliar with dating apps, the premise is simple. Users
create a profile, which can be linked to their social media accounts such as
Facebook and Instagram, allowing for a seamless integration of select photos. Brief
biographies may also be written, and settings such as age range for potential
mates and a geographic range (which is linked with your phone’s GPS) complete
the process. Following this, users are presented with profiles of other users,
whom they can either swipe left (indicating a rejection) or swipe right
(indicating an interest). Once two individuals have swiped right on one
another, a match is announced in the app and they are permitted to message each
other (note that some dating apps, such as Grindr, do not have this
As one can surmise, within the span of a
few minutes, a user can download a dating app, set up a profile, and even find
matches, all with the swipe of a finger. While this affords a convenience that
is quite novel to the dating world – making even speed dating seem labour- and
time-intensive – it is not without drawbacks. For instance, Choi, Wong, and
Fong (2018) linked dating app usage with a greater risk of experiencing sexual
abuse. Dating apps have also been associated with with high rates of
unprotected sex (Choi, Wong, & Fong, 2017) and alcohol/drug use during sex
(Landovitz et al., 2013). These are timely studies, given the concern that
dating apps such as Tinder have fostered a convenient yet unsafe hook-up
culture (Sales, 2015). However, the flip side to the efficiency with which
people can find dates (or mates) has been largely ignored.
Perhaps at no point in human history have
people been able to experience romantic rejection on a scale as massive as the
one brought forth by dating apps. Although every user is bound to experience
rejection, previous research on online dating has shown that when presented
with an array of dating options, people often take shortcuts in their selection
process. Specifically, users place greater emphasis on characteristics that are
easy to evaluate, such as physical attractiveness, while experiential qualities
that promote long-term positive outcomes (e.g., sense of humor, kindness) may
be ignored (Frost, Chance, Norton, & Ariely, 2008). Finkel, Eastwick,
Karney, Reid, and Sprecher (2012) argue at length on the consequences of such
side-by-side comparisons, where “the next potential partner is a mere
mouse-click away” (p. 31).
While Finkel and colleagues are more
concerned about the propensity to find a complementary partner, their review
does suggest that certain individuals (e.g., those not possessing obvious
qualities) may experience a greater rate of rejection. This is a key component
of the incel movement, whose members appear to both envy and loathe attractive
(and assumedly sexually active) men that they term “Chads.” They often refer to
evolutionary and personality psychology (there is an entire Wiki page,
“Scientific Blackpill,” dedicated to this) to gain insight into their
experiences of rejection, seeing themselves as biologically inferior to Chads.
Thus, there is an interesting crossroads of seeing themselves as undesirable –
a cold reality of natural selection, understanding some of the cognitive mechanisms
and implicit biases that may exist in the dating sphere, and abhorring Chad’s
female counterparts, “Stacies,” for not returning their sexual interest.
In order to best understand incels, there
needs to be some foundation on which to build, and this is the focus of my
current research. A poll posted on r/Braincels reported that roughly 90% of
participants were under the age of 30, 80% of whom resided in Europe or North
America. While informal, the poll does provide some description of incels, but
does not address more central questions. For instance, are incels’ motivations
for using dating apps different than the general public, and other men in
particular? Are they more influenced by relationship-based self esteem or more
sensitive to rejection? Can these and other variables (such as attachment) help
explain any potential differences in their mental health or their (possibly
violent) responses to acceptance and rejection via dating applications? The
answer, hopefully, is yes. If not, perhaps researchers, much like dating app
users, will have to keep swiping for a solution.
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in mobile dating apps. Social Media + Society, 2(4), 1-10.
A. (2016). 15% of American adults have used online dating sites or mobile
dating apps. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.
L. (2018). “I can be your Tinder nightmare”: Harassment and misogyny in the
online sexual marketplace. Feminism & Psychology, 28(1), 69-89.
(2019). Tinder. https://www.gotinder.com/press
International Perspectives on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Offenders
Reviewed by David S. Prescott
By Douglas P. Boer, Reinhard
Eher, Leam A. Craig, Michael H. Miner, Friedemann Pfäfflin
Produced on behalf of the
International Association for the treatment of Sexual Offenders
745 pages, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-1119046141
Available on Amazon for $48.05 in paperback; also available in hardcover and Kindle
dedication page of this volume states, “This book is dedicated to those
individuals who have helped to pioneer sexual offender treatment around the
world – ‘advocating for humane, dignified, compassionate, ethical, and
effective treatment of sex offenders.” These words most accurately describe
this large edited volume: It is one of only a few that takes a truly
international perspective while remaining unafraid to examine the policies of
countries such as the USA. Although copyrighted in 2011, this volume was
difficult to obtain for a number of years. It is now available through a number
of online sources at a helpful discount.
advocacy in the dedication reflects the mission of the International
Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders (IATSO), the organization
that provided much of the impetus for this volume. A long-time partnering
organization with ATSA, IATSO is best known for its online journal and its biennial
conference, often held strategically in locations where there is a dearth of
treatment options for people who have sexually abused. IATSO has developed
standards of care for adults and juveniles.
volume brings together experts from around the world – the USA, Canada, UK,
Germany, Denmark, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria, the
Netherlands, Belgium, and others. It begins with a section of three chapters on
treatment (by Reinhard Eher and Friedemann Pfäfflin), assessment (Carol Ireland and
Leam Craig), and our understanding of women who have sexually abused (Franca
Cortoni and Theresa Gannon). Although new information continues to emerge in
our organizations’ journals and conferences, each of these chapters remains
current and lays the foundation for the sections that follow.
II focuses on the assessment of individuals who have sexually abused. As one
might expect, readers will wish to consider the constantly evolving research
base in reading some of the chapters. Nonetheless, this section includes
excellent guidance in areas such as international applications of structured
professional guidelines (by Martin Rettenberger and Stephen Hucker) and risk
assessment for child sexual abuse among litigious families in the family court
system (by Chris Jennings, Annalese Bolton, and Emma Collins). These chapters
in particular offer helpful points on the available measures and models, for
example, of a comprehensive parenting assessment. Taken together, they can
inform practitioners grappling with high-stakes assessment situations. Rounding
off this portion of the book are chapters on phallometric assessment (by Hannah
Meridian and David Jones) and proxy measures of sexual deviancy (by Wineke
Smid, Daan van Beek, and Jelle Troelstra).
III of this book focuses on treatment issues and applications. It is this
section that establishes the project as indispensable, as well as truly
international. The section starts with a chapter by the late Bill Lindsey on
theoretical perspectives on treating individuals with intellectual
disabilities. It covers topics such as counterfeit deviance and models of
pathways to offending. Subsequent chapters describe perspectives and treatment
programs developed in Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the
USA. Yael Idisis and Sheri Oz contribute a chapter on working with families
around secrecy and victimization. Further chapters address special populations
such as psychotic patients (Leam Craig and Orestis Giotakis), those who deny
any wrongdoing (Kris Vanhoeck and Els Van Daele), and considerations in pharmacotherapy
(Peer Briken and his colleagues).
highlight of this section is a chapter by Ruth Mann, Jayson Ware, and Yolanda
Fernandez on the management of treatment programs. It covers topics such as
implementation of the principles of risk, need, and responsivity as well as
therapist characteristics. It outlines basic and advanced competencies and
addresses issues related to supervision. The authors further discuss
stakeholder relations and program evaluation.
IV focuses on human rights and ethical issues. It leads off with a chapter on
program implementation from Brazil, authored by Danilo Baltieri and his
colleagues. It covers topics that practitioners often find increasingly vexing
as they gain experience, and considers issues related to treatment at a deeper
level. These topics include confidentiality, the nature of “illness”, efficacy
of programming, and considerations related to hormonal treatments. From there,
the section turns to the USA, with a chapter from Jill Levenson on the intended
and unintended consequences of American policies, followed by a close look by
Jim Vess on human rights in risk assessment procedures. The section closes with
a deeper dive into morality and legality in the use of antiandrogen medication by
Karen Harrison and Bernadette Rainey.
final part contains three chapters on future directions. This includes
offerings on the role of IATSO and a chapter on Project Dunkelfeld by Steven
Feelgood and Gerard Schaefer. However, the last word goes to Bill and Liam
Marshall, who discuss the future of programming. They offer a concise view on
the importance of process and motivational issues, increasing our ability to
adopt strengths-based approaches, and new ideas for addressing cognitions,
behaviors, and emotions (emphasizing a less strictly cognitive approach). They
also speak to the importance of assessing treatment-induced changes as well as
treatment outcome evaluation.
the greatest concerns that many professionals have in our field is that all too
often it seems that regions and jurisdictions believe there is only one correct
way to provide supervision, assessment, or treatment. With this mindset is the
more implicit belief that all other approaches are therefore wrong. While
prevalent, this kind of mindset is antithetical to the spirit underlying
organizations such as ATSA and IATSO, which prize sharing resources and ideas.
Here’s hoping for more explicitly international efforts such as this project
and our organizations’ conferences.
Learning Difficulties and Sexual Vulnerability: A Social Approach
Reviewed by Becky Palmer
Authored by Andrea Hollomotz
London, UK 192 Pages, 2011, ISBN: 978-1849051675
Available on Amazon for $34.95 in paperback; also available on
In this 170-page book, Andrea Hollomotz highlights the need
to make changes to the macrosystem in the UK. The systems in place have
continually contributed to keeping persons with learning difficulties
vulnerable to sexual violence. Hollomotz uses the social model of disability,
which emphasizes “the processes when explaining disabled people’s
disadvantages.” One of the premises of the social model is that it makes a
distinction between impairment and disability.
The author’s research attempts to answer the following
Historically, persons with learning difficulties have had
their sexuality defined through two contradictory lenses. The first being that
they are ‘oversexed’, promiscuous and threatening. While on the other hand they
have been defined as childlike and asexual. Neither definition adequately
teaches or helps them resist or avoid sexual violence.
In the last part of the 20th Century and forward,
institutionalization for persons with learning difficulties dwindled, and
families and caregivers, as well as policy makers, have championed the concept
of persons with learning disabilities living in a community setting.
One of the goals of the research in this volume was to be
accountable to persons with learning difficulties and have them participate as
‘self-advocates’ in the research process itself.
The author defines numerous scenarios and beliefs that
contribute to risk creation for persons with learning difficulties. Among those
are teaching stranger danger. Some “interventions that attempt to protect
individuals actually reduce self-defence skills.” Furthermore, she advocates
for empowerment and self-determination by teaching individuals how to make good
choices, how to avail themselves of necessary services, as well as how to
report violent acts. Through a series of interviews with persons with learning
difficulties, Hollomotz makes suggestions about how to think differently about
the programs we develop.
While this book was written by an author in the UK, the
challenges faced are similar to those faced here in the US or other
industrialized nations. Kudos to the author for helping policy makers and
service providers think differently about our attention and intentions when
working with persons with learning difficulties.
This book is not a book that you will use in your everyday
practice like a treatment manual, but it will likely affirm the work you are
currently doing and provide you support to engage policy makers and
administration in developing and providing best practice services to
individuals with learning difficulties.
About the Author: Andrea
is a Lecturer in Social Policy at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Her particular
interest in the subject area at hand arose from her experiences of conducting
adult protection work in the field.
ATSA Board of Directors election results
The results are in for this year’s
Executive Board of Directors elections. Seven positions were up for
consideration. ATSA thanks everyone who took the time to submit their names as
nominees and to vote. Your involvement is key to setting the path ATSA will
take for the next three years.
Returning to the Board for a second
Also returning after an absence of
several years is Robert Shilling (U.S.A.), who will take over as Membership
Committee chair from Bradley Johnson, M.D. (U.S.A.).
New to the Board are:
Simon Hackett, Ph.D. (U.K.), an At-Large member who
replaces Sandy Jung, Ph.D., R.Psych. (Canada);
Amanda Pryor, L.C.S.W. (U.S.A.), who will take over as
chair of the Juvenile Clinical Practice Committee from Phil Rich, Ed.D.,
L.I.C.S.W. (U.S.A.); and
Carissa Toop, B.A. (Hons.) (Canada), who replaces
Andrew Brankley, M.A. (Canada), as the Student Representative.
We thank our outgoing Board members
for their dedication to serving ATSA and we invite you to join us in welcoming
our new Board members. We also encourage you to reach out to Board members who
chair committees of interest to you. Your participation on ATSA’s standing
committees helps make ATSA stronger. You can see the list of committees and
their chairs at https://www.atsa.com/atsa-standing-committees.
Journal updates for membership
Michael C. Seto
I am very pleased to have an opportunity to share an update
with ATSA members early in my second term as Editor-in-Chief of Sexual Abuse. The official journal of
the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers is in excellent shape,
marking the 30th anniversary of its first issue last year (Seto
& Wilson, 2018). Our latest two-year impact factor – a measure of impact
based on how often articles that were published in the journal in the past two
years are cited by other journal articles – was 3.433 in 2018, almost unchanged from the high mark of 3.444 set in
2017. This compares very well with other journals, for example, placing Sexual Abuse, a specialist journal
focusing on research regarding perpetration of sexual exploitation and abuse,
20th out of 130 journals listed as “Clinical Psychology” titles.
Similarly, Sexual Abuse ranked 5th
out of 65 journals listed under “Criminology & Penology.”
In addition to the major revision of our submission
guidelines to improve research reporting practices during my first term as
Editor-in-Chief of the journal, a number of other changes have been made in the
past two years.
First, in August 2018, we published a new person-first
language guideline, reflecting a shift in language that can be more precise yet
respectful of the dignity of all persons, consistent with the ethical codes of
major helping professional organizations (e.g., American Psychological
Association; see Seto, 2018a; Willis & Letourneau, 2018). The guideline is
not mandatory, but we hope it encourages authors and readers to consider the
impact of their language choices in describing individuals or groups.
Next, we have instituted a formal policy for the review and
potential publication of submissions involving proprietary information, as I
discussed in an editorial (Seto, 2019) accompanying an article by Abel, Jordan,
Harlow, and Hsu (2019), describing the development of a screening measure for
youth-serving job candidates. Understandably, authors are concerned about
protecting the details of the proprietary information, both for practical
(e.g., to prevent assessees from trying to “game” a measure) and commercial
reasons. At the same time, the standards of scientific publication require
independent scrutiny by peer reviewers and by readers who may wish to check for
data and analysis accuracy. For the specific manuscript submitted by Abel et
al., the authors agreed to provide a copy of their data set and syntax to the
editors and peer reviewers. The authors also agreed that they would provide
reasonable access to these data and syntax to readers willing to sign a
non-disclosure agreement regarding the specific details of the commercially
In June 2019, we instituted the next phase in Sexual Abuse’s evolution in social
scientific publishing, with the introduction of open science badging to
recognize research that is more transparent and accountable (Seto, 2019). There
are three types of badges that authors can request: (1) pre-registration of
research, which allows readers to know which hypotheses, study design features,
and analysis choices were made before data were collected; (2) open materials,
which means study measures and other materials regarding the research are
publicly available to anyone interested; and (3) open data, which means study
data are publicly available for verification analyses or other re-analysis.
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to take this
opportunity to thank several graduate student volunteers who helped clean up the
journal’s reviewer database, a mundane but greatly needed task because our
database contained many duplicate or outdated entries. I want to express my
appreciation to Krystyn Margeotes, Carissa Toop, and Farron Wielinga, from Mark
Olver’s lab at the University of Saskatchewan for their contribution to the
journal in this way.
Abel, G. G., Jordan, A., Harlow, N., & Hsu, Y.-S.
(2019). Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: Screening for hidden child molesters seeking
jobs in organizations that care for children. Sexual Abuse, 31(6), 662–683.
https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063218793634Seto, M. C. (2018a). Sexual Abuse’s new
person first guideline. Sexual Abuse, 30(5), 479–479. https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063218783798
Seto, M. C. (2019). Negotiating the intersection of science
and commerce. Sexual Abuse, 31(6),
684–685. https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063218794697Seto, M. C., & Wilson, R.
J. (2018). Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of this journal. Sexual
Abuse, 30(6), 619–621. https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063218792645
Willis, G. M., & Letourneau, E. J. (2018). Promoting accurate
and respectful language to describe individuals and groups. Sexual
Abuse, 30(5), 480–483. https://doi.org/10.1177/1079063218783799
Forum Newsletter Editorial Board
Mission and mandate
The Forum Newsletter is a quarterly online
publication for ATSA members to communicate about clinical practice, research
synopsis/translation, member perspectives, and practical resources to support readers
in the prevention of sexual abuse. The Forum is also a source of relevant ATSA
organizational updates, such as conference planning and legislative
information. The Forum is where new members are introduced, and awards are
announced (after the conference), and it is intended to support ATSA members in
their practice by providing relevant and current information through feature
articles, the FAQ column, and book reviews.
- The Chief Editor position is an ATSA member in
good standing appointed by the Executive Board of Directors of ATSA for a term
of 5 years. The role of the Chief Editor is to manage and maintain an editorial
committee with the goal of ensuring quality content, maximizing the relevance
and reach of the publication, and supporting ATSA’s strategic goals. The Chief
Editor aims to broaden the audience and elevate the discussion of sexual abuse
practice, research, policy, and prevention.
- Editorial Committee members are appointed to
terms of 3 years, with an option to renew terms.
- Editorial Committee Member duties include:
- Preparing content or soliciting submissions for
each quarterly issue including (but not limited to) ATSA committees, the ATSA
membership, and ATSA’s partners;
- Reviewing submissions quarterly as assigned by
the Chief Editor; and
- Working with the Chief Editor on content,
format, and reach of publication.
- The Book Review Editor is an ATSA member in good
standing and a member of the Forum editorial team. They are responsible for
reviewing material in an objective and meaningful way that is informative to
the study, practice, and prevention of sexual abuse and related fields. The
goal of book reviews in the Forum is to provide a critical analysis of works
deemed relevant and of interest to ATSA membership by summarizing content,
identifying target audiences, and critiquing strengths and weaknesses.
- Book reviewers’ duties include:
- Reviewing a minimum of 2-3 books per year;
- Acknowledging book review requests and working
with Book Review Editor on agreed upon timelines; and
- Completing objective reviews of scholarly
material for ATSA membership and preparing documents for publication in the
Please contact Heather Moulden, Forum Chief Editor, or Maia
Christopher, ATSA Executive Director, for more information or if you would like
to join the Forum team.
New Membership Coordinator message
Tegan L. Waring
I would like to introduce myself as the new Membership
Coordinator of ATSA.
I am thrilled to join an organization that’s composed of
professionals working, leading, and driving sexual abuse prevention through the
lens of perpetration prevention and treatment. As we begin this next chapter
together, I want to share some about my background, as well as what inspires
and motivates me.
Who am I?
I grew up in Portland, OR, where I was inspired to work for social change through my mother’s involvement in the disability rights movement. Finding
my own passion for sexual abuse prevention through community engagement, I moved
to Northampton, Massachusetts to study what I call, gender, law and policy at
Smith College. I’ve since worked with nonprofit agencies, county departments,
and federal offices in the name of a safer society. Many who know me say I am
defined by my curiosity, creativity, and enthusiasm. I sign up for more online
courses than I can complete. I enjoy collecting vintage textiles. I
dream of the perfect pet parrot. I believe if you are not trying or learning
new things, you may stop doing great and useful things. So, curiosity,
engagement, and creative enthusiasm all define me.
Why am I here?
I believe ATSA and its members have an
unparalleled capability to make society safer. I believe that ATSA membership
and its development is a form of activism and supports a community-centric
approach to sexual abuse prevention. I look forward to coordinating with ATSA’s
Members, Chapters, associated Committees, and all who make ATSA what it is
today, as well as tomorrow.
As Membership Coordinator, my goal is that each of you find
meaning in and receive genuine benefit from your membership. I want your
membership to be an experience rather than a mere investment. I commit to
communicating openly and transparently with you and I’d like to encourage the
same in return. I want to hear your thoughts and ideas, including what we could
do differently or better.
Looking ahead, I hope to meet many of you at ATSA’s 38th
annual conference in November—it is always an honor to put a name to a face! I
otherwise invite you to send any questions, comments, or salutations my way at email@example.com or (503) 643-1023.
I am very much looking forward to this next chapter. Thank you!
Tegan L. Waring
Welcome ATSA's newest members
The following 82 individuals have been approved for membership since the previous issue of the ATSA Forum. Please join us in welcoming them to ATSA.
Ken Becker, LPCC, from St. Louis Park, MN, United States
Margaret Bellino, MSW, from Tuscon, AZ, United States
Tara Blury, MSW, LMSW, from Caledonia, MI, United States
Jeffery Boyles, MSW, LSW, from Erie, PA, United States
Russell Brown, BS, from Albany, GA, United States
Laurie Burke, PsyD, from Eugene, OR, United States
Cheryl Chesser, LMHC, from Jacksonville, FL, United States
Kathryn Coker, LMHC, from Wesley Chapel, FL, United States
Mary Comperini, PsyD, from Morro Bay, CA, United States
Christian Connell, LPC Intern, WA LMHCA, WA SOTPA, from Damascus, OR, United States
Juan Contreras, PhD, from El Paso, TX, United States
Deanna Cosby, MA-Counseling, from Charlotte, NC, United States
Baron Crespo, Psy.D, from Belton, TX, United States
Mathew Crum, PS, LPCC, from Tulsa, OK, United States
Brittany Davis, MS, MFT, CPC-I, from North Las Vegas, NV, United States
Mary Lela Demby, PhD, from Fort Riley, KS, United States
Shawn Dixon, LMSW, from Wichita, KS, United States
James V. Drake, MSE, from Green Bay, WI, United States
Gary Duke, MA, LPC, from Neosho, MO, United States
Jillian Erdberg, PsyD, from Austin, TX, United States
Bastiaan Frelier, MD, from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Maribel Gloria, LCSW, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, United States
Jacquelyn Granda, MS, LMHC, NCC, from Boca Raton, FL, United States
Kathleen Grimes, PhD, from Dunwoody, GA, United States
Angela J. Hale, MD, from Macon, GA, United States
Belinda Harris, LPC, LADC, from Duncan, OK, United States
Katy Harmon, BA, from McMinnville, OR, United States
Ruby Heglin, MA, from Salem, OR, United States
Lina Hernandez, PsyD, from East Greenbush, NY, United States
Kirsten Hockemeier, LCSW, MSSW, from Albuquerque, NM, United States
Amy Howe, LSOTP, from San Antonio, TX, United States
Morgan Hutchison, MS, LMHC, PhD Student, from Spokane, WA, United States
Kimberly Hutchinson, PhD, from Lake Charles, LA, United States
Christina C. Kent, PsyD, from Aiea, HI, United States
Nathaniel Keyse, MA, LPCC, from Cincinnati, OH, United States
Victoria Lister, MSc, from Caterbury, Kent, United Kingdom
Emily Lowe, MSSA, LISW-S, from Columbus, OH, United States
Stacie Lubbers, MSW, from Wichita, KS, United States
JoAnn Chernach Lujan, MSW, from North Las Vegas, NV, United States
Rita Mack, MSW, LISW-S, LICDC-CS, from Dayton, OH, United States
Karen Mathis, PhD, from Little Rock, AR, United States
Amy Joy Meyer, MSW, LSW, from Amelia, OH, United States
Patricia Milizio, L-CSW-R, from Merrick, NY, United States
Debra Miller, MHR, LPC, from Grove, OK, United States
Morgan Milligan, MA, from Overland Park, KS, United States
Leigh Motes, M.S., LPC-S, LSOTP-S, from Corpus Christi, TX, United States
Olivia Orwitz, MS, from LeClaire, IL, United States
Emily Osborne, MS, from Wildomar, CA, United States
Kelsey Parker, MSW, LCSW, from Buffalo, NY, United States
Joshua Peters, MSW, RSW, from London, Ontario, Canada
Denise Poole, MA, MFT, from Clementon, NJ, United States
Lanesha Price, MSW, from Salisbury, NC, United States
Lauren Reed, PsyD, from St. Paul, MN, United States
Casey Regan, MS, from Portland, OR, United States
Kevin Richards, PhD, from Marietta, GA, United States
Karey Sanders, MA, LPC-MHSP, from Cottontown, TN, United States
Eveline Schippers, MSc, from Utrecht, UT, Netherlands
Stacey Shaw, PsyD, from Durham, NC, United States
Lacey Shilling from Fort Worth, TX, United States
David Shock, MA, LMHC, from Indianapolis, IN, United States
Jeff Sim, PsyD, from Moline, IL, United States
Kelly Skovron, LMSW, from New York, NY, United States
Rebecca Skur, MA, LMFT, from Moose Lake, MN, United States
Kelly Slobodian, MA, from Pittsburgh, PA
Cassandra Snow, MA, from Portland, ME, United States
Amy Starr, LMSW, from Prescott, AZ, United States
Melissa Stroebel, MFS, from Evergreen, CO, United States
Sharon Surface, LMSW, from Wichita, KS, United States
Aaron Tamayose, MC, RPsych, from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Jessica Taylor, MS, LMT, from Pompano Beach, FL, United States
Boon Pei Teoh, MPsych, from Singapore, Singapore
Timothy Thornton, MA, from St. Paul, MN, United States
Annette Tucker, LPC, from Penfield, PA, United States
David VanDerBeek, MS, LMFT, from Pahrump, NV, United States
Lee Vargen, BA, from New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Victoria Vasileff, JD, MA, LPC, from Steilicoom, WA, United States
Sonja Walker, LMFT, from St. Peter, MN, United States
William Walsh, MS, CMHC, from Bangor, ME, United States
Lauri Warren, LCSW, from Durham, NC, United States
Rita Weatherholt, LPC, from Tucson, AZ, United States
Evelyn Zatkoff, LCPC, ALMFT, from Chicago, IL, United States
Jill Zimmerman, BA, from Dittmer, MO, United States