week our blog focused on the ATSA
conference and some of the interesting plenary addresses, preconference
presentations, and concurrent workshops that occurred throughout it. Of course,
this is not the only conference that we have blogged about this year. We have
highlighted the NOTA,
conferences as well. The primary take-home message from these blogs (as well as
the conferences themselves and the people who make them happen) is the volume
of work that its going on internationally in the field of sexual abuse and the
potential for collaboration.
and sharing good practices is essential to moving any field of work forward,
but it is particularly important with respect to the global issue of sexual
abuse. Sexual abuse does not respect borders, and everyone has the potential to
be impacted by it. Therefore, it’s important that we learn from each other. The
purpose of collaboration is not to use research, risk assessment, risk
management, treatment and/or prevention in a way which imposes westernized, or
anglophone, ideas around sexual abuse; but rather to exchange new ideas,
alternative solutions and helpful suggestions.
collaboration can be very hard to accomplish. Every program and conference takes
place in a different cultural context. Understanding and appreciating this
context and the people involved is crucial to the success of any collaboration.
Once established, however, collaboration encourages adoption and contextually
appropriate responses that help reduce the likelihood of recidivism and promote
safeguarding. We have seen this at a higher level in ATSA with collaborations
with similar organizations, like NOTA (UK
& Ireland), ANZATSA (Australia &
New Zealand), IATSO (Europe), NL-ATSA (the Dutch Chapter of
ATSA), CoNTRAS-TI (Italy) and Les Centres Ressources pour les
Intervenants auprès des Auteurs de Violences Sexuelles (CRIAVS) (France),
as well as at a practical ground level in research and practice collaborations.
practice this means that one country, professional, or program might see a
challenge that they face from an alternative perspective forcing them to
reconsider their approach. One example of this is in New Zealand, as discussed
by Margret Ann Laws at ATSA 2019 and published in the recent edition of the
ATSA Forum, where the register for people convicted of a sexual offence is
constructed and run in a proactive fashion. In New Zealand, all police officers
are trained in risk assessment, and register is conceptualized as a tool to
support people in their desistance from sexual offending. Therefore, the
register in New Zealand is characterised as being supportive rather than
punitive, the way that it is conceptualized in other parts of the world. By
flipping our perceptions of existing frameworks and ideologies we can move
towards a preventive, prosocial approach to sexual abuse.
In addition, collaboration is also about working together, as well as sharing
innovative practices, and thinking about how we can push the field forward
and/or redefine challenges. At conferences and related events, one often hears
conversations about the start of new collaborations, research projects,
replications and innovations to training/development. This is great and long
may it last! We are seeing this in the newly implemented international
project on treatment efficacy with leading researchers and treatment
professionals coming together to develop and streamline the best approaches.