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Journal Issue: Sexual Abuse of Children Volume 4 Number 2 Summer/Fall 1994

Statement of Purpose
Richard E. Behrman

Statement of Purpose

The primary purpose of The Future of Children is to disseminate timely information on major issues related to children's well-being, with special emphasis on providing objective analysis and evaluation, translating existing knowledge into effective programs and policies, and promoting constructive institutional change. In attempting to achieve these objectives, we are targeting a multidisciplinary audience of national leaders, including policymakers, practitioners, legislators, executives, and professionals in the public and private sectors. This publication is intended to complement, not duplicate, the kind of technical analysis found in academic journals and the general coverage of children's issues by the popular press and special interest groups.

In this issue of The Future of Children, we focus on the difficult and emotionally charged problem of the sexual abuse of children. This is an important topic because it compromises the lives of a large number of children, although the precise number is uncertain. There is a pressing need to address this problem more effectively than has been done up to now. This subject also highlights the need for improved coordination between the judicial and child welfare systems in dealing with these children, their families, and the perpetrators. However, the high level of public concern about sexual abuse of children often assumes a degree of knowledge about how to prevent the abuse, ameliorate the harm, and avoid recidivism by abusers that does not exist. Further, because tragically, in many instances, the child victims and the abusers are members of the same family, the interests of protecting the child and preserving the family may be in direct conflict. It is our hope that by directing attention to the topic of sexual abuse of children and the possible ways to effectively address the many issues it raises, the lives of children can be improved.

We invite your comments and suggestions regarding this issue of The Future of Children. Our intention is to encourage informed debate about preventing sexual abuse of children and ameliorating harm when abuse occurs. To this end we invite correspondence to the Editor. We would also appreciate your comments about the approach we have taken in presenting the focus topic and welcome your suggestions for future topics.