Wouldn’t it be great if we could eliminate child sexual abuse (CSA) with a pill? But it’s a more complicated prospect than it seems. Who would you administer it to? Most child sex offenders are unknown to the police before they offend, and by then, it’s too late for their victims. So would you just administer this pill to everybody, to be on the safe side? And if you did, what if it had side effects?
Thinking that we can eliminate CSA with a law is the same sort of wishful thinking. Even in the best case scenario, it would be impossible for a law targeted at the most visible perpetrators of CSA—child sex traffickers, in the case of the recently-passed FOSTA/SESTA—to prevent more than a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of cases of abuse, most of which take place in the home.
Such a law, like the hypothetical pill, also comes with many side effects for those who aren’t involved in CSA at all, such as adult sex workers and Internet users. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need laws; but we already have most of those that we need. If anything, we have too many of them, and they are not targeted enough; they ensnare those they were meant to help. (Not coincidentally, new child protection laws have a history of being found unconstitutionally broad.)