According to David Finkelhor, Professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, “for most victims of sexual abuse sending the offender to jail is not the most important thing. Their top priority is to be believed, to receive an apology or to restore their sense of trust”.

For the families damaged by disclosures of sexual abuse the psychological wounds continue to fester long after the assailant has been incarcerated. Family members often feel guilt for not doing more to prevent the abuse and they also require support.

While putting sexual abusers away for a long time keeps the community safe and may prevent some future offences preventing sexual abuse and keeping our child safe is far more difficult.

Professor Finkelhor believes that the key to prevention is awareness and education and recommends:

Abuse prevention, detection and management should be prominent in the curricula of graduate education in all human service fields.

Create simple abuse prevention guidelines for relevant organizations to easily adopt and disseminate.

Provide prevention education for children at all levels of their education.

Provide parents the skills and vocabularies to talk about abuse with their children.

Justice needs to be a process, not just an outcome, with victims and their families given appropriate consideration and respect.

For victims of crime support and advice call 1800 000 055 or go to

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