Committee for Children Blog

January Congressional Briefing Recap

Joan Cole Duffell

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of girls and 5 to 10 percent of boys will become victims of child sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18 (Finkelhor et al., 2014; Kann et al., 2018; Moore, 1995). Numerous child sexual abuse prevention programs exist, but unfortunately few have been evaluated. We need to know which prevention methods are most effective at providing children with the best programs to help keep them safe.1

On January 29, Committee for Children (CFC) hosted a congressional briefing in Washington, DC, to educate policymakers about why federal funding for research on child sexual abuse prevention is essential and to request $10 million dollars in new funding for this research.

During the briefing, you’ll hear Dr. Elizabeth Letorneau, a champion researcher on child sexual abuse prevention, discuss how the United States spends $512 million annually to incarcerate sexual offenders in federal prisons yet dedicates no federal funding to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Dr. James Mercy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies where there are gaps in research for which we need further investment. You’ll also listen to Deborah Chosewood, a state agency deputy director in Georgia charged with prevention efforts, explain the limits she faces in the absence of more robust research. Maryland Delegate C.T. Wilson opens and closes the briefing with his firsthand account as a survivor for the toll that abuse can take on someone and his commitment to securing federal funding to address it.

“This briefing honors our roots,” explains Jordan Posamentier, CFC’s director of policy and advocacy. “In the absence of a comprehensive body of research and evaluation, we cannot say for sure what works best or what might inadvertently be doing harm. We are determined to get it right. To do so, it is essential that we dedicate federal resources to developing a comprehensive body of research on the prevention of child sexual abuse.”

CFC would like to thank the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse for leading the charge on this important request to federal lawmakers, as well as our other co-sponsors: Futures Without Violence, National Children’s Alliance, and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.


  1. Finkelhor, D., Shattuck, A., Turner, H.A., & Hamby, S.L. (2014). The lifetime prevalence of child sexual abuse and sexual assault assessed in late adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(3), 329–333.
  2. Kann, L. et al. (2018). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States 2017. MMWR Surveillance Summaries, 67(8), 1–114.
  3. Moore, Mark H. (1995). Public health and criminal justice approaches to prevention. Crime and Justice, 19, 237–62.