In this article, Professor Kieran McCartan from University of the West of England, talks about the importance of networking in the prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) domain and the added value of the knowledge exchange to enhance a culture of prevention.
Read more about the effort of 2PS project to bring together experts and promote knowledge exchange.
The importance of networking and knowledge exchange in the prevention of child sexual abuse: the work of 2PS project
By Professor Kieran McCartan, PhD
Difficult conversations are difficult to have! Often this is because we are challenged by a different viewpoint, entrenched in us on ideas and beliefs. Sometimes, it is because we are not aware of the changing landscape of evidence around us.
This is true in many areas, but especially true in criminal justice and crime prevention.
The 2PS project has many aims, but one of the main ones is to contribute to a professional, policy and, to a lesser degree, public shift towards the acceptance of a prevention approach to child sexual abuse.
Child sexual abuse is one of these difficult areas that was alluded to earlier. The most important thing to say is that the prevention of child sexual abuse unities all professionals globally.
However, what separates them is what it should look like and what the evidence base is. This is something 2PS is working towards: having a concrete and comprehensive understanding of.
What 2PS project is doing for prevention of child sexual abuse
One of the work packages in 2PS project, the one that I lead, has a professional and practice knowledge exchange component. Which means not only information sharing, but discussion and debater about what good practice is, what the evidence base says, how we should have dialogues and how we understand abuse.
Of course, this can be challenging as the sexual abuse, especially the child sexual abuse field has many different professional groups with different perspectives and remits. So, it is not one conversation or branding exercise, it needs to be more nuanced.
To add to this complexity, 2PS project is an international and transnational project which throws up cultural and language barriers at times, meaning that we always need to be aware of context and consider the lived reality of practice in different areas.
Presenting the prevention of child sexual abuse work in 2PS
How do you do good professional engagement and discourse?
The two main ways of doing this are creating events or platforms and inviting professionals to join or going to their events or platforms.
In the 2PS project we are doing both! Over the last couple of months, we have talked about and presented the work, and vision, of 2PS at several leading international sexual abuse conferences. It includes IATSO, ATSA and European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence.
2PS at IATSO Conference
The IATSO (International Association for the Treatment of Sexual Offenders) conference is a bi-annual conference held at different locations all over the world.
Although the IATSO is mainly a European organisation, its recent conference in August in Trondheim had 440 plus attendees from over 20 countries.
IATSO is a treatment conference filled with practitioners and policy makers. Therefore, the prevention debate and the work of 2PS project, especially working with people at risk of committed child sexual abuse, was well received and well respected.
IATSO is a good testing ground for 2PS, like NOTA (National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse, based in the UK and Ireland) and NL-ATSA (the Dutch speaking Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abuse), because it is grounded in Europe with an understanding of the cultural nuance, treatment variability in policy and practice, as well as the socio-political landscape.
The presentation at the IATSO conference was good for the development of the 2PS network and support system.
2PS at ATSA Conference
The IATSO participation was followed in September with the Association for The Treatment of Sexual Abuse (ATSA) Conference in Denver, USA.
In that occasion, not only did 2PS present a paper, but it also held a special interest session.
ATSA is the largest sexual abuse prevention and treatment conference annually and, like IATSO, it has practice and research representation. Although ATSA is an American and Canadian organisation, it does have a international view and multi-national attendance. This year there were approximately 1,100 attendees from over 15 countries.
ATSA is important for 2PS project because a lot of the early prevention work by Elizabeth Letourneau (part of 2PS Advisory Board), Joan Tabachnick, and colleagues was presented there.
Additionally, it has a rich history in developing professional practice, professional networks, and is leading on the secondary prevention of child sexual abuse in a difficult landscape (i.e., the USA).
The audience well received the 2PS work, and chimed with ongoing research, policy and practice work currently taking place in the USA and Canada, with great opportunities for shared learning and knowledge exchanger.
2PS at WWP European Network conference
The most recent event that we spoke at was the European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence online conference.
This was an important conference for 2PS because not only is it an online conference with a different remit (i.e., domestic, and interpersonal violence), but it potentially has a larger attendance scope and remit.
European Network for the Work with Perpetrators of Domestic Violence works to reduce the scale and nature of domestic violence. It is very much a gender-based violence organisation that looks at domestic (and sexual) violence from a women’s rights and victims focused perspective.
As 2PS comes from the perspective of working with people at risk of committing a sexual offence, it could seem from the outside that these two projects are dichotomous, but this is not the case and is further from the truth.
Both projects want to prevent and eradicate child sexual abuse and are what to support communities, practitioners, and policy makers in their prevention activities.
In discussing the 2PS project we also highlighted other prevention work in Europe, and further afield, as well as discussing what we know about the causes of sexual abuse preparation and how we can work to prevent it.
Where you can meet 2PS in the next months
Over the last three months we have talked at a number of conferences highlighting the work of 2PS and building a network.
The work will continue throughout the research of the year with us talking at:
- the Thriving Survivors conference in Glasow in November,
- a Confederation of European Probation workshop on Gender Based Violence in Barcelona in November,
- a online joint NOTA and Lucy Faithful Foundation prevention conference all in November.
Join 2PS workshop in January in Bristol – UK!
Following on from these presentations 2PS will be holding its own networking event/workshop, the first of three, on the 22nd of January in Bristol, UK.
We will discuss the current effectiveness of national and local policies linked to the prevention of child sexual abuse and how we determine the success and efficacy of existing risk assessment tools, treatment and support programs.
We will advertise this as soon as possible and hope to see many existing and new colleagues there.
Sharing knowledge to prevent child sexual abuse
Preventing child sexual abuse by working with people at risk of committing a first time or repeat offence is often difficult and challenging.
One of the most effective ways to change the policy and practice landscape, as well as support each other in our roles, is to communicate and share knowledge.
This is one on the strengths of 2PS, which will continue to grow and evolve across the project, hopefully resulting in a policy, practice, and community shift.