- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An advertising campaign in Minnesota is aimed squarely at a demographic more often targeted by law enforcement than public relations executives: people at risk of sexually abusing a child.

Billboards, print ads, posters at bus stops and signs in public restrooms will go up this week with messages such as, “I’m not like those guys on the news who get caught being sexual with children. Am I?”

A confidential hot line and secure Web site will be offered to direct potential offenders to counseling.

The advocacy group Stop It Now Minnesota thinks its $35,000 ad campaign is the first of its kind in the country.

“If there are people out there looking for this kind of help and they can’t find it, that’s a tragedy,” said Yvonne Cournoyer, program director for the nonprofit group.

Working with a focus group including sex offenders, researchers learned that potential abusers were less likely to respond to ads featuring happy, smiling people.

“These are, by and large, individuals who are miserable, depressed, out of control,” Miss Cournoyer said.

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