School-based child sexual abuse prevention programmes: the evidence on effectiveness

Ian Barron, Keith Topping

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    This narrative review explored the efficacy of school-based child sexual abuse prevention programmes between 1990 and 2002. There were 22 efficacy studies that met clear inclusion criteria. Results covered both methodological design and the range of outcome measures. Methodology was analysed through four dimensions (target population, prevention programme implementation, evaluation methodology and cost-effectiveness). Outcomes for children covered nine categories (knowledge, skills, emotion, perception of risk, touch discrimination, reported response to actual threat/abuse, disclosure, negative effects and maintenance of gains). The studies had many methodological limitations. Prevention programmes had a measure of effectiveness in increasing children's awareness of child sexual abuse as well as self-protective skills. Beyond minimal disclosure rates, there was no evidence to demonstrate that programmes protected children from intra-familial sexual abuse. For a small number of children prevention programmes produced minimal negative emotional effects. Recommendations for future research, policy and practice, include realistic outcomes for child participants and locating programmes within wider abuse prevention measures
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-53
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Children’s Services
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • Child sexual abuse
    • Abuse prevention
    • Efficacy
    • Personal safety skills
    • Child protection
    • Programme evaluation
    • Victimization


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