In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017 photo, Penn State University student Amber Morris, right, talks with Stand for State program director Katie Tenney, left, during a team meeting in State College, Pa. Penn State's Stand for State program is part of a large push in colleges across the country seeking to train people to be able to recognize, and step in, when a sexual assault is unfolding. Credit: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

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When another sex crime is reported, another hidden tragedy is exposed. Another two families are devastated.

Sex crimes make news and they spread fear. The public is outraged. Politicians are incensed.

Perpetrators are reviled. Legislators are impassioned to devise more restrictive laws.

But all the reporting, outrage, incense, revilement, and passion do little to prevent sex crimes. We watch the trials, applaud the convictions, and lull ourselves into a false sense that public safety is being secured. We are wrong.  

We are not doing what we must do: look rationally at who commits these crimes and what help can be provided to stop them from harming others. Sadly, perpetrators are often known and trusted by those whom they harm. We must create a climate where they can seek help before they commit offenses.  

If we hope to change this heartbreaking situation, we must look at what sex crime researchers are telling us. We must have difficult conversations that challenge erroneous beliefs and misguided practices. We must have the courage to find solutions that will end the tragedy of underreported and misunderstood sex offenses.  

Maybe then we will make some progress in preventing sex crimes, instead of just reporting on them.

Dorothy Colcord