Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Projects
Since 2015, the Children's Advocacy Center Advisory Committee (CACAC) has partnered with the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network (CMSN) at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) to develop and collaborate on two large-scale, research-based prevention programs designed to address child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. This partnership is a truly unique collaboration in that the CACAC/PCCD utilizes its portion of Endowment Act (EA, or NCAA/Sandusky penalty) funding to support program implementation, while CMSN utilizes EA funding originally retained by PSU to support program research and technical assistance to the projects.
The prevention of child sexual abuse (CSA) is complex and requires the effort of multiple sectors in a community. Over the course of both projects, three programs have been utilized that target three distinct populations that have an important role in the prevention of CSA: (1) adults in the community; (2) second-grade children; and (3) parents. While the first pilot (The Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative) included all three programs, the second (Project Safe and Smart) included the school-based program and a modification to the original parent component. The programs are as follows:
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Stewards of Children (SOC), developed by Darkness to Light, is a research-based program for adults in the community and is designed to improve knowledge of CSA, decrease myths surrounding CSA, and increase positive behaviors such as reporting possible abuse to Children and Youth Services. More information about Stewards of Children can be found here.
Developed by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Safe Touches teaches K-3rd grade students to trust their feelings about inappropriate touches, say no to someone trying to give them a not-safe touch, walk away or remove themselves from the situation, and report inappropriate touching to a trusted adult. Components are taught by an interactive puppet show within the classroom. More information about Safe Touches can be found here.
Parents have a responsibility and are in a unique position to create a safe environment for their children. Though many parent-education programs give parents the skills to do this generally, no parent-education program was designed around the prevention of CSA, and, to this end, none has demonstrated an effect on CSA specifically. Smart Parents – Safe and Healthy Kids, developed by the PSU Research team and lead by Dr. Kate Guastaferro, was designed to be delivered in a single additional session of an existing evidence-based parent education program for parents with children under 13 years old. Information regarding the development of Smart Parents can be found here. Research that demonstrates the effect of the program on parental awareness and use of protective behaviors can be found here. SPSHK is currently being researched as a stand-alone universal prevention program, now called Smart Parents, and is a component in the current prevention initiative, Project Safe and Smart.
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