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Reader's view: Child sex abuse should be treated as public health issue

The July 8 story on background checks in youth organizations, in response to the Duluth Salvation Army coaches being charged with sexual assault, documented what, unfortunately, happens all too often in this country ("Background checks must be th...

The July 8 story on background checks in youth organizations, in response to the Duluth Salvation Army coaches being charged with sexual assault, documented what, unfortunately, happens all too often in this country ("Background checks must be thorough, experts say").

Every day we see reports like these and react with shock and horror. Unfortunately, we are neither asking how to prevent these alleged incidents nor taking the necessary actions to do so.

Child sexual abuse is a public-health crisis in the United States and should be the subject of the same research-based analysis and policymaking we see with anything else threatening this nation's health. By treating each incident we see in the news as a one-off crime rather than as part of an ongoing epidemic, we fail to marshal the knowledge, resources and public attention needed to effectively combat child sexual abuse.

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Bloomberg School of Public Health was founded October 2012 with the hope that we can change that. We with the center believe firmly that through research and public engagement we can prevent child sex abuse and keep our kids safer. In order to do that, though, we need help shifting the conversation from what happened to what we can do about it.

We hope the News Tribune's future reporting will ask those questions.

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Dr. Stephen Moore

Bloomington, Ind.

The writer is the founding donor for the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

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