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By: Jason M. Jowers, M.S. MFT

Resource Discovery Imagine Project

Therapists and helping professionals often talk with their clients about difficult and challenging issues that their clients are facing. One of the hardest issues, that I encountered as a therapist, was talking openly about abuse and abusive relationships. This became even more of a challenge when the circumstances involved child abuse, including child sexual abuse.

Once it became clear that child abuse was taking place, I knew that as a mandated reporter I would have to call child protective services. But what do you do before and after? How do you have those difficult talks with children and youth and their parents, especially if a parent is the abuser? How can we as a society prevent this abuse from happening and how do we effectively help families after abuse has taken place?

In this TedMed Talk, Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau shares how she has devoted her life’s work to change the ways in which people view child sexual abuse and how to reframe the issue as a preventable public health problem. She shares two surprising facts that can change our way of thinking about child sexual abuse including average age of a typical child sexual abuser and probability of multiple offenses of abuse from a child sexual abuser.

Instead of focusing our efforts on prevention, we focus all our efforts on punishment,” Dr. Letourneau explains. With this shift in thinking, we can potentially navigate these tough conversations with families in the therapy room in a more compassionate way.

For more insight on the topic of problematic sexual behavior in children and youth, view the From Hysteria to Hope: Bringing Reason to Sexual Abuse in Childhood webinar, featuring Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau which is archived at

Be sure to visit the Sexual Behavior in Children and Youth Series page where you’ll find webinars and podcast episodes as well as information on upcoming webinar topics in this OneOp FD series that will be ongoing throughout 2020.


Letourneau, E. (2016). Child Sexual Abuse is Preventable, Not Inevitable. TEDMED Talk. Retrieved from:

This post was written by Jason M. Jowers, MS, MFT, of the OneOp Team.

Blog Image: Photo from Pexels [Book by Caio, CC0]