Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Are Safe Environment Training Programs Effective? A Topical Review of the Literature
Published on: 2016-07-30
Child victims of sexual abuse face a number of short and long-term difficulties as a result of their victimization. Prevention of child sexual abuse is ideal since the victimization would be stopped prior to a child being harmed and suffering the consequences of such betrayal of trust and abuse. The literature surrounding child sexual abuse prevention programs, typically called “safe environment training” is examined to determine the evidence for their effectiveness. This topical review explores the evidence to support core elements in the curricular structure that may indicate effectiveness. The ultimate goal of actually preventing child sexual abuse is difficult to reach from a methodology perspective. At this point, the literature contains measures related primarily to the structure and process of the safe environment program and the outcomes assess typically include an increase the child’s knowledge about the risk of child sexual abuse, a strengthening of their own self-awareness about body safety and information about what to do if approached by a perpetrator. Ideal programs are those that are of sufficient length to allow for adequate content to be shared, developmentally sensitive to different age groups and one’s that have parental involvement. More research is needed to build upon the current educational structure and process evidence base but at the present time well-constructed safe environment programs that are delivered in a educationally sound manner are likely to be of some value in an overall all effort to reduce the risk of child sexual abuse.
Child Sexual Abuse; Safe Environment; Prevention; Effectiveness Review