Help kickstart the Prostasia Foundation

For: Prostasia Foundation
San Francisco, CA
Organizer: Prostasia Foundation
of $5,000 goal
17% Complete
Raised by 16 donors

The Story

Introducing a new kind of child protection organization

Protecting children from sexual abuse is a cause that everyone can unite behind. Often, however, the measures we take to combat child sexual abuse (CSA) are less effective than they should be, because they are driven by emotion rather than evidence. In striving to protect children from abuse, we may actually end up harming them and others.

That’s why a group of mental health professionals, child protection workers, human rights activists, sex industry experts, and CSA survivors, have come together to create the Prostasia Foundation. Prostasia is a child protection organization; we prioritize dialogue, outreach, and scholarly research to build evidence of effective ways to prevent CSA, and we partner with a broad range of stakeholders to help put these strategies into action.

In addition to this positive CSA prevention mission, Prostasia speaks out against ill informed policy proposals, in the firm belief that having zero tolerance for CSA should not require us to abandon our society’s core values in the pursuit of its elimination. When we fail to analyse proposed child protection measures critically, they are likely to be ineffective, unconstitutional or both—and that in turn means compromising on child safety.

Our approach is holistic, multidisciplinary, and multistakeholder, and is driven by our commitment to the following three values:

  1. Child protection
    There is never any justification for adults to have sexual contact with children or to use or traffic in child sexual abuse imagery (child pornography).

  2. Human and civil rights
    Our work is grounded in respect for universal human rights such as freedom of expression, privacy, and the due process of law.

  3. Sex positivity
    We proceed on the assumption that private sexual behavior between consenting adults, or by oneself, is not harmful, rather than presuming that it is.

Our mission is to ensure that the elimination of child sexual abuse is achieved consistently with the highest values of the society that we would like our children to grow up in.

We need your support

This fundraiser will cover the initial expenses of forming the Prostasia Foundation at a time when an impartial, evidence-based voice for child protection is sorely needed. Your donation will fund:

  1. Development of our website.
  2. Our application for registration as a s.501(c)(3) nonprofit.
  3. Any excess raised will go towards a small initial operating budget.

If you can't donate but are interested in participating as a volunteer, that would also be a valuable contribution. Please get in touch with us to explain your interest, and we'll send you a copy of our prospectus with more information. Keep following our updates here to learn who else is involved.

If our application for s.501(c)(3) status is granted, your donation may retrospectively become tax deductible.

Our work

By upholding the values of child protection, human and civil rights, and sex positivity, Prostasia will represent a unique and nuanced voice for children in policy discussions around child sexual abuse prevention.

  1. To advocate for child protection laws that are constitutional and evidence-based

    Prostasia advocates for a balanced, principled, and evidenced-based approach to policymaking (to the extent that lobbying activities by a s.501(c)(3) nonprofit are permitted). Such an approach is too frequently seen lacking in the populist and reactive approach to child protection favored by many politicians, which results in the hasty passage of laws that may be unconstitutional, cause unforeseen harms to those the laws were intended to protect, or act as a bad precedent for the restriction of rights and freedoms in other areas.

  2. To provide Internet platforms with our expertise

    The front lines of child online protection are not in the houses of parliament or the courtrooms, but in the offices of major Internet platforms. Some such platforms do liaise informally with child protection groups for advice, but only Prostasia is dedicated both to child protection, and also to upholding platform safe harbors and freedom of expression. Although we do not adjudicate individual account violations, we can assist Internet platforms to develop policies that draw the right line between freedom of speech online, and excluding content that is likely to harm children.

  3. To provide law enforcement with our expertise

    Just as we make ourselves available as a source of expertise to Internet platforms, so too we aim to become a trusted resource for law enforcement agencies and for autonomous groups who work with them. Just as laws aimed at protecting children can sometimes miss the mark, so too the decisions of regulators and law enforcement authorities could be made more effective through the balanced and evidence-based perspective that Prostasia offers.

  4. To disseminate and fund academic research

    Developing better informed child protection measures depends on the availability of sound research into child sexual abuse. However due to the stigma associated with this topic and the difficulty of finding willing research subjects, much work in this area remains to be done. Prostasia will work with professional associations of sex researchers to raise funding for new independent research on neglected topics, and to clearly and concisely communicate the results of that research to policymakers, platforms, and the public.

  5. To participate in international policymaking institutions

    Although we are based in the United States and our focus lies there, our eventual goal is to become an international resource for lawmakers around the world who are grappling with similar issues. We will also represent the values of child protection, human and civil rights, and sex positivity, within international policymaking fora dealing with child protection especially in an online context.

  6. To contribute to public debate on these topics

    One of the problems with current debates around sex offending laws, platform censorship, and juvenile sexual behavior, is that no other dedicated child protection organizations are willing to speak up about often quite serious flaws in policy proposals for fear of appearing weak on their core issue. Prostasia will inject a new rights-focused, evidence-based, and sex positive voice into these public discussions, through our own statements and publications, interviews with media, briefings to stakeholders, and presentations at public events. 

About our branding

The name Prostasia comes from the Greek word for “protection”, signifying that we are a child protection organization. The trunk of the tree also represents a hand reaching out for another. The tree itself represents growth—both the natural growth from childhood into adulthood, and the growth in understanding between diverse stakeholders that we aim to promote. It also represents the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a sexual metaphor from the creation myths of the three major monotheistic faiths.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on May 22, 2018


Posted on May 22, 2018

It has been another productive week. Prostasia is about to publish another article in our Medium blog, covering the difficult but important topic of teen sexting. This topic came second in our poll about subjects that our readers wanted us to cover in future articles. We are all about reducing sexual harm to children, and this extends to harm done by laws targeted at teen sexuality, not only the harm caused by sexual abusers.

Sexting is the archetypal example of how laws that are intended to protect young people can actually end up causing them serious harm, including imprisonment and placement on sex offender registries. The infographic to the side, which will be used in the article, compares the safety features of some of the apps that can be used for sexting. To find out more, be sure to check out our blog after it is posted tomorrow.

Another law that lays claim to being a child protection law, but which we believe might have the opposite effect, is the CREEPER Act, a bill introduced into the U.S. Congress that would make it illegal to possess certain sex dolls or robots that appear to be underage. Just as FOSTA/SESTA was supposedly targeted at child sex trafficking but actually had a wider impact, we believe that CREEPER is part of a wave of morality laws that will be directed against sex toys and adult entertainment more broadly.

Experts on our Advisory Council have recommended that more research is needed about the effects of these dolls—positive or negative—before we rush to ban them. Accordingly we have drafted and circulated a draft letter to all of the Members of Congress who have co-sponsored the Creeper Act, asking them to keep the bill on hold until this research has been done. In the coming week, we will be seeking co-signatories for this letter before we send it to the Member of Congress.

Last week our Executive Director attended RightsCon, one of the most important annual events for the community of activists working on the intersection of Internet and human rights. Although his participation was in a non-Prostasia capacity, he was able to participate and speak in several workshops and panels that were pertinent to Prostasia's mission, and to make some contacts who may become future Prostasia partners, advisors, and funders.

We have also continued to expanding our Advisory Council, and look forward to being able to introduce them to the public as soon as our website development is slightly further advanced. To speed this process up, please consider donating to us again, even if you've donated to us once before. If you are a U.S. taxpayer, you'll be able to claim a tax deduction for your donation once our nonprofit status is confirmed by the IRS.

Thanks again for all that you have done to support our mission—we won't let you down. We will check in with you again next week with another update.

Posted on May 14, 2018


Posted on May 14, 2018

It's hard to believe it's already been almost a month since we launched our crowdfunding campaign. We've come a long way, but there's still a long way left to go. However, this week we can announce a significant milestone! We now have two part-time interns on staff. They'll be assisting the Executive Director, the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council with duties like research, writing, fundraising, and social media management.

Due to the commencement of our interns this week, much of the preceding week has been spent on working on our internal office systems, that aren't visible to the general public, but which will support the work of our growing staff and volunteers. For example, our new private intranet contains a wiki, a document repository containing the latest research, shared calendars and tasks lists, an internal chat system, and so on.

We've also been working on public outreach. Today, our Founder and Executive Director recorded a podcast interview with the Prevention Project, in which he talks about his motivations for bringing together such a diverse community of people—including CSA survivors, mental health professionals, civil rights activists, and sex industry specialists—to create the kind of child protection organization that has never been seen before. Keep watching our Twitter feed or our Facebook page for a link to this podcast when it becomes available.

Although website development and outreach remain important during our crowdfunding period, we are also itching to get started on our more substantive advocacy work, and during the coming week we will be diving in and doing that. Our submission to the European Commission, referred to in last week's update has been written and sent this week, and the letter to Members of Congress has also been written and will be circulated for broader comment before we release it publicly.

With all of this progress, it's disappointing to note that we didn't raise any new donations this week, and this is impacting on how quickly we can execute our vital mission. We won't be in a position to raise funds from institutional donors until we have our s.501(c)(3) status in place and our website fully developed—so until then, we are depending on you to survive. Can you share our crowdfunding campaign with a few more people on social media, and add a few words of your own about why it's important.

With appreciation for your continued support, that's all we have for now. Stay tuned next week for a further update as usual.

Posted on May 7, 2018


Posted on May 7, 2018

We have some really exciting progress to share with you this week, and you can see it to the side of this update! That's right, thanks to your support, we have a beautiful website mockup to show the world, and the development of the rest of the site is underway. We've also been expanding our presence on other social media websites, including a new Instagram account for which we will soon be developing some exclusive shareable content.

Although our web and social media presence may seem trivial compared to the actual program work that Prostasia will be performing, connecting our work to the broader community is actually an important part of our primary prevention mission, as we explained in our last blog post. It's also an important part of giving our organization a credible and authoritative voice as we begin to reach out to policymakers, platforms, and funders.

That, too, is something that we are already starting to do. Thanks to the existing connections of our Executive team, we have established contacts with most of the major Internet platforms. Cooperating with them will become an important part of our mission, and it's something that other child protection organizations do poorly.

We are also reaching out to policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic. This week we hope to finalize a submission to the European Commission about the responsibilities of Internet platforms with respect to child abuse imagery. And during the following week we'll be working on a letter to U.S. Representatives (but more on that later).

Your contributions have enabled us to get this far, and it's still only week three. But as well as things are going, in order to complete our website and launch Prostasia as an operating nonprofit organization, we're relying on you for your continued help. Even if you can't contribute any more money than you already have, you can help in other ways. Think about blogging about Prostasia, for example, or writing about us in on your favorite social media website or forum.

That's it for now. Back to the grindstone for Prostasia's volunteers, until we update you again next week.

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