New Publication from the ZLab: Reviewing the focus: A summary and critique of child-focused sexual abuse prevention. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. doi:10.1177/1524838016675478


Due to the high incidence, and widespread detrimental health consequences, of child sexual abuse (CSA), effective prevention remains at the forefront of public and mental health research, prevention and intervention agendas. To date much of the focus of prevention has been on school-based education programs designed to teach children skills to evade adult sexual advances, and disclose past or ongoing abuse. Evaluation of sexual abuse prevention programs demonstrate their effectiveness in increasing children’s knowledge of CSA concepts and protection skills, but little is known about their effects on children’s capacity to prevent abuse. Moreover, concerns persist about the unintended side-effects for young children such as anxiety, worry and wariness of touch. This paper summarizes the recent history of CSA prevention and the critique of child-focused protection programs in order to demonstrate the need to compliment or replace these programs by focusing more on protectors in the children’s ecology, specifically parents, in order to create safer environments in which abuse is less likely to occur.

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