UTHSC Team Receives National Support for Project To Help Adolescents with Sexual Behavior Problems

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A project aimed at helping Memphis-area youth with sexual abuse issues has received support from the U.S. Department of Justice. Principal investigator Jacqueline Page, PsyD, professor, and William Murphy, PhD, professor emeritus, both in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, were recently awarded $475,000 by the Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention for the project “Addressing Sexual Abuse by Youth (A-SABY).”

The A-SABY project focuses on developing and implementing an evidence-informed approach and framework for identifying and addressing the needs of children with sexual behavior problems and adolescents who have engaged in sexually abusive behavior and their families. It will also encompass support for services to victims and their families.

The primary goals of the project are to help prevent sexual abuse and support community safety. This will include collaboration across involved agencies (investigative, court, treatment, legal, victim advocates) toward development of effective response strategies, establishment of agreed upon protocols and strengths-based supervision plans. A core focus of the project is increasing the availability of quality evidence informed assessment and treatment services (outpatient and in-home). A consultant who specializes in cultural issues will be involved with the project. The project will also work with agencies, such as the Memphis Child Advocacy Center to identify how it can support their work.

“Dr. Murphy and I are very excited to have received federal funding for this project,” Dr. Page said. “We look forward to working with our community partners in addressing the issue of sexual abuse by youth with a goal of preventing victimization.”

A multidisciplinary advisory group will assist in identifying assets, resources, needs, challenges and barriers, as well as providing recommendations and ongoing review of the project. Key stakeholder representatives from Juvenile Court, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, the community, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, TennCare, Blue Care Tennessee, and treatment providers from Alliance Healthcare Services and Health Connect America will be invited to have an active role on the advisory group.