Background Child sexual abuse is a serious safety and health issue. To prevent the sexual abuse of children, it is crucial to target individuals who run the risk of conducting a sexual crime against a child but have not (yet) done so. There are treatment programs in Finland within prison services for sex offenders, but no specialised interventions exist for potential offenders.
Methods The www.otanvastuun.fi online self-help material developed by Save the Children Finland, targets specifically potential child sexual offenders and focuses on their online behaviour. The website is based on the English-speaking croga.org material, and draws on best practices of sex offenders treatment programmes and interviews with convicted sex offenders, who have been actively involved in the development of the material. The aim of the website is to increase the self-awareness of the potential offenders and to help them to control their problematic behaviour.
Results Since the publication of the material, there have been nearly 15000 visitors on the website. The material has been introduced at several occasions, and has been well received by the professionals working with convicted and potential sex offenders and by other relevant parties and audiences. A systematic evaluation of the website among sex offenders and professionals working with them is scheduled early next year. The Otanvastuun.fi website has been awarded the Finnish national crime prevention prize 2015 and represents Finland at the annual European crime prevention competition.
Conclusions To prevent child sexual abuse, it is crucial to target potential offenders. The Otanvastuun.fi online self-help material targets individuals, who have not (yet) acted in illegal or harmful ways towards children but are at risk of doing so. The material has been well received by the main target groups and other relevant parties and audiences, and has been awarded the Finnish national crime prevention prize.
- Crime prevention
- Child sexual abuse
- Online behaviour
- Technology solutions