IN HIS column “Follow evidence, not gut feeling, on sex offenders’’ (Op-ed, Aug. 28), Gareth Cook writes, “The question we must answer is, what do we want for these people, after they have been released?’’ Given that of every 100 sex abusers, 70 percent or more are never reported; of those who are, only two-thirds face criminal charges, and less than 15 percent of those are convicted and serve prison time, the better question is: What can we do to prevent these crimes from ever happening?
The public has already responded. In a 2007 poll, 650 Massachusetts residents were asked how state dollars to address child sexual abuse should best be spent. Thirty-seven percent said that we should invest in educating adults and communities about how they can prevent child sexual abuse in the first place. Only 20 percent said funds should be used to publicize the sex offender registry.
The work of the private-sector Enough Abuse Campaign prompted officials at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to hail Massachusetts as “one of the first states in the nation to lead a trailblazing effort to prevent child sexual abuse by building a movement of concerned citizens, community by community.’’ Let’s use our resources on programs working to prevent child sexual abuse, not on public notification efforts that research has shown to increase recidivism and make our communities and children less safe.
Massachusetts Citizens for Children
The writer directs the Enough Abuse Campaign.