Source: (1997) New England Journal on Criminal and Civil Confinement. 23:303.Sexual abuse is a significant problem in the United States. In general, the public and policy response is to resort to tougher punishment as a solution. This, according to Robert Freeman-Longo, is the cornerstone of the criminal justice model approach. An alternative response to punishment would be to seek prevention, this being the foundation of a public health model approach. In this context, Freeman-Longo examines reasons why Americans have not been ready to look at sexual abuse from a different perspective, and why it is necessary to shift paradigms in understanding and responding to this significant health or social problem.