NEARI Press and Training Center Newsletter - Volume 11, Issue 2: February-March 2018
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Opportunities: Parenting, Programs, and the Reduction of Risk
Warm regards from the heart of New England here at NEARI Press and Training Center!

We are pleased, this month, to bring you analysis of an article focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse. Sometimes, as clinicians, we are so focused on treating our clients after the abuse has been perpetrated, that we don't pay enough attention to how we can play a role in primary prevention to keep sexual harm from being perpetrated in the first place. This month's article, “Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Opportunities: Parenting, Programs, and the Reduction of Risk”   by Julia Rudolph, Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Dianne C. Shanley, and Russell Hawkins, examines how prevention opportunities can include parents, and dare we say, all adults, including those of us who work with children in a professional capacity. Certainly, in our work with parents and families, we can teach prevention skills and this article gives us good direction for that additional important role that we can play in preventing child sexual abuse.

As 2018 progresses, NEARI Press is preparing several new books for publication. Among other publications, we have in the works, an eight-session curriculum by Rus Ervin Funk, co-founder of Men Can Stop Rape, Inc. in Washington, D.C., to help men critically explore the impact of their viewing of pornography. We’re also looking forward to a book by Dr. Jane Ward and Diana Groener, M.A., that is a detailed, step-by-step treatment manual for clinicians and workbook for adult high-risk clients. As you wait for those exciting books, you can see the current rich offerings of NEARI Press by checking out our catalog ( online here ), or by going directly to our online bookstore . If you’re interested in receiving a hard copy of the catalog or are sponsoring an event at which you’d like to distribute it, please email Alisa at:
In February and earlier this month in March, we offered the first two segments of our webinar "mini-series" -- set within our annual webinar series -- of trainings presented by the faculty at the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth (NCSBY). Dr. Jane Silovsky began the mini-series with a stellar overview entitled Clinical Assessment of Children with Problematic Sexual Behavior. Dr. Erin Taylor followed up this month with an excellent webinar on best practices for clinical assessment including methods for interviewing caregivers and children and the use of structured assessment tools to supplement interview information to inform clinical decision-making. These segments are available for viewing on NEARI Press & Training Center's YouTube channel , and as always, CEs are available . The final segment of the mini-series will take place on April 10th with NCSBY faculty members Shel Millington and Amanda Mitten presenting Clinical Decision-Making in Cases of Children with Problematic Sexual Behavior . Join us!

Don't forget to stay up to date on all things NEARI Press and Training Center by following us on social media: on Twitter at @NeariPress, @NeariP2P for our Parent 2 Parent project, and on Facebook .
As always, we look forward to hearing from you about the articles, authors, and topics you’d like us to cover in the NEARI e-Newsletter, our webinars, and our in-person trainings. Please contact Alisa if you have ideas and thoughts about the particular kinds of books, workbooks, and training you’d like to see NEARI Press and Training Center offer in the coming year. 
Thank you for your interest in NEARI, and for the vital work that you do to keep children and adults safe from sexual harm,
Craig Latham, Executive Director, NEARI 
Alisa Klein, Director, NEARI Press and Training Center,  
This month, David S. Prescott and Alisa Klein examine the article:
“Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Opportunities: Parenting, Programs, and the Reduction of Risk.”
Julia Rudolph, Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Dianne C. Shanley, and Russell Hawkins  
(Please see below for full citation and abstract.)

Can parents and other caretakers of children play a significant role in shifting the responsibility of preventing child sexual abuse off of the shoulders of children themselves by incorporating practices such as communication, involvement, and monitoring into their parenting to decrease children’s risk for sexual abuse?

Underlying this research is the assertion that most parental prevention programs focus on teaching parents how to discuss sexual abuse risks and prevention strategies with their children. As such, the authors examined the following three questions:

  1. Can sexual abuse of children between the ages of 4 – 8 be reduced if parents communicate to them the dangers of sexual abuse and strategies to prevent it?
  2. Do children have the developmental and emotional capacity to identify the nuances of sexual abuse prevention concepts and sexually abusive behavior towards them?
  3. Can sexual abuse education have negative unintended social and emotional consequences for children?
The authors note that despite over thirty years of programs that teach parents child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention skills to share with their children, parents continue to be hesitant to do so, and that there is no empirical evidence to prove the effectiveness of parental discussion with children as a way to prevent CSA.

The authors suggest that it may be crucial to broaden CSA prevention beyond its current focus on discussion with children about prevention strategies to one that improves parents’ overall protective capabilities and decreases parental risk factors. They suggest strengthening positive parenting practices and building supportive home environments to reduce the effects of various risk factors, including parental absence, drug and alcohol use, mental illness, marital conflict, compromised supervision, and weak parent-child attachment. The authors conclude that the over-reliance on child education needs to shift to the development of parenting programs that enhance parenting practices protective against CSA and mitigate the risk factors for the sexual abuse of children. They also recommend that CSA protective behaviors not be taught to parents in isolation, but that they be integrated into existing evidence-based parenting programs. These programs should teach not just CSA prevention topics such as offender behaviors, CSA warning signs, and healthy boundaries, but parenting skills such as developing a warm relationship, engaging well with children, monitoring, setting appropriate limits, providing a sense of security, and communicating effectively and lovingly.

It is understandable that our first attempts at preventing child sexual abuse involved talking with the children themselves and emphasizing the parents’ role in doing so. After all, sexual abuse thrives on secrecy and without open discussions, how could prevention take place meaningfully? These findings highlight what many, if not most, practitioners have long felt in their hearts: that the context of these discussions is vital.
These findings emphasize the importance of communication with children about sexual abuse and the context in which it occurs, as well as critical areas of focus for professionals as they assess and attempt to help the families that come to their attention. Professionals of all backgrounds can use these findings as markers of possible risk and adjust their style for interacting with each family accordingly in order to build on each family’s unique strengths, risks, and aspirations on behalf of their children.

These finding illustrate how specific techniques and methods of communicating with children are only one aspect of preventing sexual abuse. Safety, predictability, and warm, nurturing relationships are also vital. These components can too easily go missing from assessment and treatment of families experiencing stresses, perhaps because few studies have established the links between these risk factors and areas of family functioning. 

To date, child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention has relied largely on child-focused education, teaching children how to identify, avoid, and disclose sexual abuse. The purpose of this article is to explore how prevention opportunities can include parents in new and innovative ways. We propose that parents can play a significant role as protectors of their children via two pathways: (i) directly, through the strong external barriers afforded by parent supervision, monitoring, and involvement; and (ii) indirectly, by promoting their children’s self-efficacy, competence, well-being, and self-esteem, which the balance of evidence suggests will help them become less likely targets for abuse and more able to respond appropriately and disclose abuse if it occurs. In this article, we first describe why teaching young children about CSA protective behaviors might not be sufficient for prevention. We then narratively review the existing research on parents and prevention and the parenting and family circumstances that may increase a child’s risk of experiencing sexual abuse. Finally, we make a number of recommendations for future approaches to prevention that may better inform and involve parents and other adult protectors in preventing CSA. 
Rudolph, J., Zimmer-Gembeck, M.J., Shanley, D.C., & Hawkins, R. (2018). Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Opportunities: Parenting, Programs, and the Reduction of Risk. Child Maltreatment , 23 (1) 96–106      
NEARI Press and Training Center is excited to offer the last segment of our free webinar "mini-series" featuring the deeply knowledgeable faculty from the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth (NCSBY) at the University of Oklahoma. The last webinar in the series will be on April 10th -- Shel Millington and Amanda Mitten will present on clinical decision making for children with problematic sexual behavior. CEs are available! Join us!

April 11 - 13, 2018

Join our friends at MASOC and MATSA for their annual conference in Marlborough, MA. It is a world-class conference with presenters from all over North America and beyond.

NEARI Press and Training Center will be there and we'll be selling books. Come by our booth to say hello!

The 22 nd  Annual Minnesota Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (MnATSA) conference will be held April 11-13, 2018 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest,  7025 Northland Drive, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Presenters include: James Cantor, S. Bear Bergman, Sharon Cooper, Ian McPhail, Marie Clark, Robyn Wheeler, and many more. The MnATSA conference offers three days of workshops with over 40 different workshops to choose from. 

Go to  and click on the  Conference Tab  to see the conference brochure and register. To avoid the late fee enter the code  "NEARI"  in the  "Comments"  section. Don't pay with a credit card or send payment until you receive a revised invoice (no late fee) with instructions on how to pay via credit card or check. 

If you have any questions email us at

Mountain Times , January 17, 2018
By Evan Johnson

RUTLAND—After serving a lengthy jail sentence, reentering a community and adjusting to an unstructured life can be a daunting task. Thanks to a group of volunteers in Rutland, that obstacle becomes easier for offenders to overcome.

Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), is a relatively new program at the Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC Community Action that assists high-risk offenders returning to the Rutland area.

Lisa Ryan, program manager for the Rutland County Community Justice Center, said the role requires a special kind of volunteer.

“It’s extremely hard because of the population you’re working with and the time commitment,” Ryan said. “It’s not something I would ever send a signup sheet around for,” she said. “To work with this population, you have to be invested. You have to care.”

The model originated in Canada in the 1990s and has been implemented in the United Kingdom and in a few U.S. states, including Vermont and Minnesota. The program at the Rutland County Community Justice Center at BROC Community Action is under a year old and more volunteers are needed.

“It’s very important for us to get the right people at the table who are invested and care and want to help make Rutland county a better place for everybody,” said Ryan.
West Haven resident Joan Eckley is one of these volunteers. For 27 years, Eckley worked in the Vermont Department of Corrections as one of the first woman correctional officers at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility where she co-facilitated the pretreatment sex offender program. She found she enjoyed working in contact with the inmates under her supervision and chose to stay a caseworker for the duration of her career.

“I stayed a caseworker, I did not rise within the system,” she said. “Every time I looked at rising within the system I would lose contact with the inmates and I would have to compromise my own principles.”

After retiring from corrections, she wanted to continue with inmates who were about to be released. “I didn’t feel like my work was finished,” she said.

After working in the program for about seven years, she looks forward to the weekly meetings, which are held in a group-meeting setting to help offenders navigate social life outside, develop relationships and be held accountable to their victims and the community. “We start with ‘How are you?’ and it goes from there.” she said.

Joining the circle
In Vermont, members in the CoSA program are on a conditional release status such as furlough or probation. Three or four volunteers commit to weekly meetings for a period of 12 months with one individual, called a core member. Core members bring their concerns and share what they’ve been experiencing in recent days.

“Whatever a person brings up sets the stage for what we talk about,” Eckley said.
Members talk about their living situations, experiences with groups and what they’re doing in the community. Those emerging from an extended prison sentence can find themselves in a world completely different from the one they knew at the time of their imprisonment. Even a simple trip to the grocery store can provide a rush of overwhelming sensations. Members may struggle with banking, transportation without a car, using a smartphone, a laundromat or more.

Eckley recalls one individual who after his release suffered from carsickness and became ill when he stepped on grass for the first time in years. “That’s how profound it can be,” she said.

At a CoSA meeting, core members can talk candidly about experiences while volunteers act as a sounding board for these concerns and offer feedback.
“You’re walking a fine line between support and accountability and I enjoy walking that line,” Eckley said. “It’s a challenge of all of me – mind, body and soul.”

One often-discussed issue is housing. Until recently, sex offenders living in Rutland were prohibited from living in much of Rutland City. The ordinance, which was adopted in 2008, prohibited any offender convicted of a sex crime against a child from living in the city within 1,000 feet of a school, day care or recreation area. A Rutland judge struck down that ordinance in December, 2017.

After years isolated from family and friends, relationships are often strained. It’s another area that core members want to discuss in meetings. “When a man or woman has been away for a decade or more, relationships are a driving thing for them,” said Eckley. “These people are lonely.”

Changing a system
According to Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform, in 2016 there were approximately 1,750 men and women incarcerated in the state system, in seven facilities in the state and one out-of-state prison. About 150 of those were women. In the summer of 2017, Vermont signed a contract with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which committed Vermont to pay for 250 to 400 beds for three years at a rate of $72 per inmate per day. Under this agreement, the state signs over custody and control of Vermont prisoners, making them prisoners of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. There are currently about 262 Vermonters in the state prisons SCI-Camp Hill and Graterford in Pennsylvania.

Prior to the 2017 move to Camp Hill, Vermont’s out-of-state prisoners were sent to North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, Mich., owned and operated by GEO Group, a private, for-profit prison corporation. “It may save money on the short run but in the long run it’s destroying our people,” she said. “Vermont prisoners should be housed in the state of Vermont.”

CoSA programs started in Vermont in 2005. Since then, there have been a total of 379 CoSAs started, and members of the Community Justice Center insist the program is working. “A big part of this is about is what kind of redemptive opportunities can be found for people simply by investing a little time and effort in them,” said CoSA volunteer Andrew Carlson. “Even if you’re not involved in a moral or ethical perspective, … the expense to society of warehousing these people is alone a good enough reason for trying alternate ways of managing their difficulties.”

In a 2013 executive summary completed for the Vermont Department of Corrections, University of Vermont sociology professor Kathryn Fox wrote: “[C]ore members expressed more positive sense of self as contributing members to society, a commitment to pro-social relationships, a sense of mutual obligation toward and trust of circle members, and somewhat greater optimism for the future.”

Joan Eckley is in the unique position where she has worked with several individuals during their incarcerations and seen them complete the CoSA program when released. “I’ve known them at the beginning and at the end,” she said. “That’s very rare.”

She accompanied one man to his parole board hearing where he was granted parole. The man has since been able to maintain a job and has bought a house. They are still trying to arrange a date when they can get lunch again.
By: Toni Cavanagh Johnson, Ph.D.
Duration: 3-4 hours; CE Credits: 4

By:   Joan Tabachnick
Duration: 1-2 hours; CE Credits: 2

By: David S. Prescott, LICSW
Duration: 3-4 hours; CE Credits: 4

By: Steve Bengis, Ed.D., L.C.S.W. 
Duration: 4-5 hours; CE Credits: 5

By Reverend Debra Haffner & Joan Tabachnick 
Duration: 3-4 hours; CE Credits: 4

by Jamie Suvak, L.M.H.C. 
Duration: 1-2 hours; CE Credits: 2

Please consider becoming a sponsor of our exciting 2017-2018 NEARI Press and Training Center Webinar series. We have a great lineup of nationally recognized authors presenting their workbooks, research, and approaches to working with youth with sexual behavior problems. 

For $98 as an individual, or $250 as an organization, we will guarantee you up to 14 seats for the webinar AND you have access to FREE CE credits . We do all of the work to sign you up each month, and as a thank you for your support, we also offer you two free NEARI Press books. We will proudly publicize your sponsorship in all of our promotional literature and on the webinars themselves. 

For more information or to sign up, visit our website at OR contact Diane Langelier at 413.540.0712 x14, email .
NEARI Press and Training Center
Programming and resources for at-risk
youth and the people who work with them for the prevention of sexual abuse
Office: 413.540.0712 x14
Office Fax: 413.540.1915 
Website  |  Become a Sponsor  |  About Us  |  Bookstore  |  Links  |  Contact Us
Please email us at  or call us at 413.540.0712, X35 to let us know if you have a question or a topic you would like us to cover.

We value your trust. We will not sell or give
your contact information to any other organization.