Today’s article in The Hill – Why aren’t we treating child sexual abuse like the crisis it is? – expresses understandable frustration with how child sexual abuse hasn’t changed since we learned about Larry Nasser six years ago.
The article says “it is six years since we learned about the horrific abuse that occurred at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics” and “six years later, the painful reality is that we have done far too little as a country to prevent what happened … from happening again.”
If only it were only six years since we first learned about the extent of, and damage caused by, sexual abuse. It is at least twenty-five years since the abuse crisis first emerged. It is twenty years since the first formal responses to sexual abuse were developed and, though they are now broadly adopted, the practices have changed little since then.
So the painful reality isn’t that too little has happened in six years but that too little has happened in twenty-five years.
The further frustration is that it’s not like we haven’t learned a lot about child sexual abuse in the last twenty years. Or about risk management – the process of trying to ensure things like sexual abuse don’t happen. Knowledge of both has developed considerably over the last twenty years but the dots haven’t been joined. Sexual abuse isn’t actively managed as a risk; it is still addressed as a compliance issue.
Instead of adding more compliance which, because sexual abuse is increasing seems to be getting less effective, why not look at risk management best practice, which has become far more successful?