Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: In Search Of The Best Program Model

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Claire Halverson


Research Focus: The purpose of this study was to explore child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention programs developed for middle school classrooms with a focus on primary prevention. Since the 1970s, public awareness of CSA has pushed for the development of school based prevention programs, however, the urgency of these programs pre-dated scientific research on best practices. This study will use a rubric of standards that are effective in prevention to analyze programs that meet the outlined criteria of this study.

Importance: Schools are limited in time and resources for the implementation of various prevention programs (drug and alcohol, tobacco, suicide, cyber bullying, etc). The new Act One (16 V.S.A. § 131) mandate in Vermont is requiring schools to include child sexual abuse prevention education in each grade level, training for all faculty and staff, and parent education. Schools are scrambling to find programs that will meet the mandate and fit into their already stressed schedule. This study will be useful in identifying aspects of prevention programs that constitute effective prevention, as well as identify specific programs that use best practices in prevention.

Research Methods: The research for this study consisted of a literature review to develop standards effective in prevention education. Multiple searches were conducted in order to identify CSA prevention programs that fit into this study’s criteria. This included reviewing the Technical Assistance Resource Guide, searching the School for International Training database of journals, visiting the Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence library, and exploring aspects of the Google search engine (ie. Google Web Search, Google Scholar, and Google Books). Programs found were then analyzed using the created rubric of best prevention practices. Follow up phone calls were made to clarify any areas of the rubric which were not apparent through online searches.

Conclusions: A total of five CSA prevention programs were identified that met this study’s criteria. After comparing each to the rubric of best practices using program materials with follow up phone calls to available program managers, it was apparent that each used a slightly different means to prevention. Therefore, there was a significant lack of consistency between various approaches to prevention. In addition, many programs did not have a clear research base or evaluation method. This was concerning as schools may be using programs that have not been developed out of scientific research and have not been proven to be effective. Finally, most programs focused on classroom education in prevention and did not utilize stakeholders such as school faculty, administration, parents, and the community. Overall, the five programs analyzed ranged in use of effective standards from 14 – 37 on a 39 point scale. Out of the five programs used in this study, only three continue to be available to schools as a resource.


Public Health Education and Promotion | Student Counseling and Personnel Services

This document is currently not available here.