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- PublicationPrevention of child sexual abuse: Implications of programme evaluation researchThirty child abuse prevention programme evaluation studies were selected according to a set of methodological criteria following an extensive manual and computer literature search. Targets for intervention in 17 studies were children; in 3 were parents; in 4 were teachers; and in 6 studies multisystemic programmes were evaluated where some combination of children, parents and teachers were targeted for intervention. From a review of the 30 studies it was concluded that child abuse prevention programmes can lead to significant gains in children's, parents' and teachers' safety knowledge and skills. Best practice guidelines arising from the review include the use of multisystemic programmes; child-focused curricula which cover a wide range of safety skills and concepts; and the use of didactic instruction and discussion; video modeling; and active behavioural skills training techniques in programme delivery. The curricula for parents' and teachers' programmes should cover child-protection issues and local child protection procedures along with an overview of the children's programme lesson plans. Longer programmes conducted by trained staff are preferable and such staff may include teachers, parents, mental health professionals and law enforcement officers.
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- PublicationThe epidemiology of child sexual abuseThe scale of child sexual abuse is the central concern in this chapter. There are two main types of studies which attempt to describe the scope of child sexual abuse. Firstly, there are incidence studies which seek to estimate the number of cases identified in a specific population during a given time period and in a given locality. Secondly, there are prevalence studies which attempt to estimate the proportion of a population that has been sexually abused in the course of their childhood. Incidence figures are usually expressed as a number of cases per 1000 children per annum in a designated geogaphical area. Prevalence figures, on the other hand, are expressed as a percentage of cases within a defined population reporting abuse.
- PublicationHelping children to the other side of silence: A study of the impact of the stay safe programme on Irish children's disclosures of sexual victimisation.Objective. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a school based safety skills programme - The Stay Safe Programme - in facilitating the disclosure of sexual abuse among sexually victimized children and adolescents in Dublin. Method. A cohort of 145 children who had participated in the Stay Safe Programme prior to their referral to a sexual abuse assessment unit were compared with a cohort of 443 children who had not participated in the prevention programme on a range of disclosure related variables abstracted from case notes. Results. More Stay Safe participants, particularly female adolescents, made disclosures of suspected sexual abuse than non-participants. A higher rate of initial disclosure to teachers was made by Stay Safe participants and more teachers in schools participating in the Stay Safe programme initiated referrals for evaluation of suspected child sexual abuse. Following assessment a higher rate of confirmed abuse occurred among Stay Safe participants and for these confirmed cases more Stay Safe participants made purposeful disclosures and in significantly more cases referral was due to the child telling someone about the abuse. These differences in disclosure between programme participants and non-participants were unrelated to demographic factors or characteristics of the abuse. Conclusions. The Stay Safe programme was an effective secondary prevention intervention deserving widespread implementation.
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- PublicationEvaluation of the effectiveness of the Stay safe primary prevention programme for child abuseObjective. This child abuse prevention study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Stay Safe Programme in training unscreened 7 and 10 year old children in personal safety skills. Subsidiary aims were to evaluate the programme's impact on children's self-esteem and parents' and teachers' knowledge and attitudes of relevance to child abuse and protection. Method. Changes in safety knowledge and skills and self-esteem of 339 children who participated in the Stay Safe Programme were compared with those of 388 waiting list controls. Children in the training group were also followed up at 3 months. In addition, the knowledge and attitudes of parents and teachers of children who completed the programme were evaluated before and after the programme and 5 month followup data were collected from teachers only. Results. Compared with waiting-list controls, trained children showed significant improvements in safety knowledge and skills and these gains were maintained at follow-up. The greatest gains were made by 7 year olds. Children who participated in the programme also showed significant improvements in self-esteem which were maintained at 3 months follow-up but only the 7 year olds in the training group made significantly larger gains in self-esteem than their control group counterparts. Children with a higher socio-economic status benefited more from the programme than less privileged children. Both parents and teachers showed significant improvements in knowledge and attitudes concerning protection over the course of the programme and for teachers, these gains were maintained at follow-up. Conclusion. The findings suggest that the Stay Safe Programme was effective in training children in safety skills and so may usefully be used as a primary prevention intervention for child abuse.
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- PublicationThe effects of child sexual abuseA substantial body of empirical evidence now shows that child sexual abuse has profound effects on the psychological adjustment of children (Kendall-Tackett, Williams & Finkelhor, 1993) and these effects in some instances continue on into adulthood (Beitchman, Zucker, Hood, Da Costa & Akman, 1991). A wide range of factors mediate the impact of abuse on adjustment (Spacarelli, 1994). In this chapter the impact of sexual abuse on children and adults will be addressed with reference to the empirical literature in the field and the implications of this for prevention considered.