OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Help Wanted Prevention Program

Online intervention that works with young people who have an unwanted sexual attraction to younger children and seeking help to not offend.

Photo of Meghan
2 2

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Child sexual abuse is a global public health problem that affects 12% of children - 246,000,000 - worldwide and is identified by the World Health Organization as a leading preventable contributor to the global burden of disease, yet it is addressed almost entirely by after-the-fact interventions. The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health aims to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place. We develop, test, and disseminate effective perpetration prevention programs, including our Help Wanted Prevention Program. Help Wanted targets adolescents and young people who identify as having an unwanted sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Approximately 5% of adolescent and adult men acknowledge experiencing sexual attraction to prepubescent children. The public fears that these men will inevitably harm a child. Yet, research based on tens of thousands of cases demonstrates that fewer than 3% of adolescents and 12% of adults convicted of sex crimes ever reoffend sexually. These low recidivism rates suggest initial offenses are preventable. Moreover, many people with sexual attraction to children are committed to living an offense-free life that keeps children safe. But, they need help to sustain their commitment and to address the many obstacles, like isolation and stigma, that threaten their resolve. Help Wanted is designed to address the most urgent needs identified by these young people by offering a safe, non-judgmental and anonymous intervention program with modules that address the most critical areas of need. Each session presents 5-10 minutes of online content that cover five core necessities: emphasizing harms associated with child sexual abuse and exploitation; providing strategies for achieving a healthy and safe sexuality; coping with strong sexual urges; countering stigma and shame; and determining whether, when, and how to disclose one’s sexual attractions.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are young people and adolescents ages 12-30 who are seeking help for their unwanted sexual attraction to younger children as well as family, friends, and professionals who want to help but don’t know how.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There are literally no resources for these young people in most countries, including the U.S. Help Wanted is the first and only online intervention that addresses core concepts including the harmfulness of child sexual abuse, strategies for achieving a healthy and safe sexuality, and approaches for countering stigma and shame. Help Wanted inspires action before harm occurs.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

The Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse aims to prevent abuse before harm occurs by developing, testing, and disseminating effective prevention programs. • Elizabeth Letourneau’s 2016 TEDMED presentation Child Sexual Abuse is Preventable, not Inevitable: • Elizabeth Letourneau was featured in This American Life’s 2014 podcast episode “Tarred and Feathered”:

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

We get hundreds of calls, emails, and letters from young people seeking help with their unwanted attraction to children as well as from their family members, friends, and professionals who want to help but don’t know what to do. Because therapists are mandatory reporters and must report instances where a child might be in danger, people who seek professional help – even people who have not engaged in harmful or illegal behavior - run the risk of being reported to authorities.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

This project works to establish peace within individuals who are experiencing an unwanted sexual attraction to children and make communities safer for all to thrive. Additionally, the overall outcomes of this project would be to decrease the stigma that comes with this attraction. These young people experience judgment and ostracism that doesn’t allow them to live peacefully in their own families, friend groups and communities. It is important for this community to coexist with the rest of the world. We believe that the more support these young people have, the more likely they will be to lead lives free of offending. The Moore Center is committed to ensuring that they receive the knowledge, skills and techniques to live prosperous lives free from perpetration.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Collaborators for this project include Raliance, a national collaborative committed to ending sexual violence in one generation. Their investment of $50,000 has allowed this project to jumpstart. To develop the content, the Moore Center works with the ATSA Collaborative. This is a group of the top practitioners and researchers on this topic who are also members of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA). Additionally, the Moore Center works with 3C Institute to develop and build out the online modules for Help Wanted. 3CI has developed numerous online interventions aimed at preventing and managing public health problems. They also have experience developing these specifically for an adolescent population.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

This is a community of people who do not want to offend or act on their attractions, and are open to seeking and availing themselves of help. Taking a preventative and proactive approach is the most promising way to address child sexual abuse, improving upon after-the-fact interventions that, while necessary, engage only after a child has been harmed and – often – a child has engaged in harm.

Geographic Focus

Currently available only in English; aim to translate Help Wanted for other languages and cultures.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The Moore Center needs 36 months for completion of the project. Specifically, we will continue to develop the intervention, adapting existing modules based on user feedback, adding additional modules (e.g., a suicide prevention module; family and friends modules; and a module geared towards professionals).

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Colleen Striegel

Hi Meghan, I applaud you for working in this very difficult and sensitive area. There is is a great need for this type of service. How do young people find out about your service in a way they feel is safe?

Photo of Meghan

Hi Colleen, thanks for your kind words! As it stands now, we work with individuals who are already part of of an online support group of self identified non-offending pedophiles. As we expand the intervention we will likely utilize social media as well.