This fourth episode in the season of “Perspectives on At-Home Sexual Assault Kits” in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Laurieann Thorpe, the Executive Director at Prevent Child Abuse Utah, who discusses her perspective of at-home sexual assault kits.
An introductory note indicates that Prevent Child Abuse Utah is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. Thorpe, the Executive Director, discusses her career in child abuse prevention and response, as well as whether she believes at-home kits should have a role in addressing child sexual violence. Thorpe states that her focus in the work of Prevent Child Abuse Utah, which is part of a network of such organizations in jurisdictions throughout the country, is the prevention of child abuse. Home visits are a key part of this work. Parents are advised of the importance of teaching their children about what is appropriate, acceptable, and unacceptable in how adults and other children behave toward them. This includes attention to appropriate and inappropriate touching, attempts to remove certain clothing, and engaging in games that involve sexual activity. Regarding the use of at-home sexual assault kits, she has only criticism for their various uses. For abusers, the test itself can be a vehicle for initiating sexual abuse. Parents may use the test to determine whether a child is lying about having been sexually abused by a family member, which can lead to adverse family interactions and false or damaging accusations. Some parents may also use an at-home sexual assault kit to monitor and deter adolescent children’s sexual behavior.