Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Resources

This collection of online resources provides information and tools for caretakers, organizations and communities assuming the responsibility of preventing child sexual abuse. Through basic information on child sexual development, defining sexual abuse, and learning effective strategies we can prepare to take action steps toward prevention.

Introduction

Introduction

A person sexually abuses a child when he or she exposes the child to sexual acts or behavior; that child may experience a variety of short and long term reactions as a consequence of that abuse (NSVRC, 2011). Many children who experience sexual violence show physical, emotional, sexual, or verbal signs of abuse.  These effects can lead to long-term stress and hardship for the child well into adulthood, and often cause concern for parents, teachers, and other caretakers (NSVRC, 2011). In the past, prevention efforts focused on empowering children to keep themselves safe from abuse. Instead, information from public health and ecological models of prevention propose a shift in responsibility from the child to the community (NSVRC, 2011).
               
The resources provided here are meant to supplement the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Information Packet developed by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). All of the resources shown here are available online and are free to the public. This selection is not a comprehensive list, but a starting point for further exploration on the prevention of child sexual abuse.

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What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

Resources listed in this section offer information on defining child sexual abuse, the prevalence of this form of sexual violence, and public perceptions of child sexual abuse.

By the Numbers: Child Sexual Abuse (12 p.) by the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (2001). This fact sheet provides statistical information on the rates and prevalence of child sexual abuse according to various studies.

Child Abuse: Statistics, Research, Resources (70 p.) compiled by Jim Hopper (2002). This resource page provides a compilation of information, research, and statistics dealing with child abuse. It includes statistics for the United States, Canada, England, Australia, and other international statistics.

Child Sexual Abuse: Dispelling Myths, Reducing Risk (OLT) by ChildSafe. This basic course is for parents, grandparents, foster and adoptive parents, community volunteers and even survivors who are interested in learning more about preventing and effectively responding to child sexual abuse.

Teens and Sexual Assault (1 p.) by Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA). This fact sheet discusses common statistics related to sexual assault of teenagers. It provides a brief overview of best practices for working with teens affected by sexual violence.

Ten Years of Surveying the Public about Child Sexual Abuse (6 p.) by Terri Amick for Stop It Now! (2009). The Executive Summary of a study conducted over ten years discusses interviews with adults on their perceptions of child sexual abuse. This resource summarizes the major findings of that survey, including perspectives on whether or not an adult would intervene if he or she suspected abuse and opinions on the effectiveness of sex offender management and treatment.

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Sexuality and Child Development

Resources shown here discuss child sexual development, warning signs of abuse, and impacts of child sexual abuse.

Facts for Prevention: The Health Impact on Children & Youth (2 p.) by National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. This fact sheet discusses the prevalence and impact of child sexual abuse on health. Recognizing the adverse childhood experiences, like sexual abuse, have lasting impacts on lifelong health, this sheet seeks to educate and raise awareness for child sexual abuse prevention.

Healthy Sexual Development (2 p.) by Darkness to Light. This page provides information on behaviors that are consistent with healthy sexual development in children from ages 0 to 8 years. It also includes tips for facilitating healthy development during infancy, early, and middle childhood years.

Signs that a Child or Teen May Be At-Risk to Harm Another Child (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This brief tip sheet provides information on potential signs that a child or teenager may exhibit if he or she is at-risk to sexually abuse another child. Some signs include depressive or sexually aggressive behavior or expressions. Alternative: PDF

Warning Signs in Children or Adolescents of Possible Sexual Abuse (2 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This fact sheet discusses behaviors and physical signs for both children and adolescents that they may have experienced sexual abuse. It also provides information on additional resources and actions you can take if you suspect abuse. Alternative: PDF

What You Can Do

Information provided in this section addresses actions and precautions that parents, families, organizations, schools, and communities can take to help prevent child sexual abuse. Knowing warning signs of potentially abusive situations, like inappropriate boundary setting between adults and children, and ways to address these concerns have an impact on stopping child sexual abuse before it happens.

Parents and families

7 Steps to Protecting Our Children: A guide for responsible adults (16 p.) by Darkness to Light (2007). This guide provides information for adults on preventing child sexual abuse for the children in their lives. It discusses facts on child sexual abuse, how to talk with children, establishing healthy boundaries, fostering healthy sexual development, and taking action to prevent sexual abuse.

Behaviors to Watch for When Adults are with Children (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This fact sheet discusses behaviors and actions related to respect for personal space and boundaries, and the rights of children. These behaviors include discussion of inappropriate relationships and conversation topics between adults and children that may indicate risk of sexual abuse. Alternative: PDF

Don’t Wait: Everyday Actions to Keep Kids Safe (2 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This fact sheet provides information on steps you can take to help protect children from sexual abuse. It includes information on setting appropriate boundaries, watching for warning signs, and keeping the lines of discussion open.

Sexual Safety in Sports: Talking about coaches who show inappropriate interest in children (2 p.) by Stop It Now! This tip sheet provides information on talking points for children and adults to help disrupt potential grooming activities in youth sports. It includes information on appropriate language to use when speaking with children about concerns.

Signs that a Child or Teen May Be At-Risk to Harm Another Child (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This brief tip sheet provides information on potential signs that a child or teenager may exhibit if he or she is at-risk to sexually abuse another child. Some signs include depressive or sexually aggressive behavior or expressions. Alternative: PDF

Signs that an Adult May Be At-Risk to Harm a Child (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). A one-page tip sheet provides information on signs that adults who sexually abuse children commonly exhibit. Tips include evaluating personal relationships, responsibility, and personal safety actions. Alternative: PDF

Step Up and Speak Out: A Parent Guide for Selecting Youth Serving Organizations (OLT) by Darkness to Light. This slideshow presentation with audio is a guide that teaches parents about their personal power and responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse. It also gives them specific direction to understand and improve the protection practices of programs that serve children.

Nine Questions Parents Need to Ask When Selecting a Program for their Child (3 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This fact sheet lists nine questions for parents to consider when choosing a program, like a day care or summer camp, for their child. These considerations are based on CDC prevention findings, and include information on policies that promote child safety from sexual abuse by program staff members or other children. Alternative: PDF
 
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Organizations, Schools, and Communities

7 Steps to Protecting Our Children: A guide for responsible adults (16 p.) by Darkness to Light (2007). This guide provides information for adults on preventing child sexual abuse for the children in their lives. It discusses facts on child sexual abuse, how to talk with children, establishing healthy boundaries, fostering healthy sexual development, and taking action to prevent sexual abuse.

Behaviors to Watch for When Adults are with Children (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This fact sheet discusses behaviors and actions related to respect for personal space and boundaries, and the rights of children. These behaviors include discussion of inappropriate relationships and conversation topics between adults and children that may indicate risk of sexual abuse. Alternative: PDF

Culture and Context: The Collaborative Fund for Youth-Led Social Change (12 p.) by By Marisha Wignaraja, P. Catlin Fullwood, and Ami Nagle with the assistance of Ms. Foundation for Women staff Margaret Hempel and Julia Beatty (2006). This summary report provides information on lessons learned in funding youth-led initiatives for social change. It emphasizes cultural context for youth experience.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse within Youth-Serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures (55 p.) by Janet Saul and Natalie C. Audage (2007). This report places the responsibility for developing guidelines and policies to prevent child sexual abuse on the organization. It addresses hiring practices, monitoring behavior, training, and overcoming challenges to preventing child sexual abuse within an organization.

Preventing sexual violence: An educational toolkit for healthcare professionals (online learning tool) by American Academy of Pediatrics. This toolkit provides basic sexual violence information for pediatric and family medicine health care providers. Scenarios by age group help to guide best-practice decision making and additional resources are imbedded in this learning tool.

Prevention Training for Staff and Volunteers (1 p.) by Darkness to Light. This page discusses the importance of providing training to staff and volunteers of youth-serving organization that shifts the responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse from the children to the adults supervising them. It also emphasizes the importance of clear policy and training on mandatory reporting of child abuse.

Screening of Employees and Volunteers (1 p.) by Darkness to Light. This page provides a brief introduction to the concept of screening employees and volunteers in an effort to provide a safe and abuse free atmosphere for youth-serving organizations.

Sexual Safety in Sports: Talking about coaches who show inappropriate interest in children (2 p.) by Stop It Now! This tip sheet provides information on talking points for children and adults to help disrupt potential grooming activities in youth sports. It includes information on appropriate language to use when speaking with children about concerns.

Signs that a Child or Teen May Be At-Risk to Harm Another Child (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). This brief tip sheet provides information on potential signs that a child or teenager may exhibit if he or she is at-risk to sexually abuse another child. Some signs include depressive or sexually aggressive behavior or expressions. Alternative: PDF

Signs that an Adult May Be At-Risk to Harm a Child (1 p.) by Stop It Now! (2008). A one-page tip sheet provides information on signs that adults who sexually abuse children commonly exhibit. Tips include evaluating personal relationships, responsibility, and personal safety actions. Alternative: PDF

Shifting Cultural Norms

The resources in this section provide information on how individuals, communities, and organizations can change the everyday factors that contribute to fostering child sexual abuse. True social change relies on actions and efforts at multiple levels, so these pages discuss adjusting attitudes and perspectives among individuals, groups, and through policy.

Individual

Competing Meanings of Childhood: Implications for Sexual Abuse Prevention (Webcast recording) by Stop It Now! (2010). This webcast discusses the meaning of childhood and the shift in prevention focus from a victim-centered approach, which places responsibility largely on the child, to a socio-ecological model, which emphasizes multilevel change. *registration is required to view the webcast recording*

What do US Adults Think about Child Sexual Abuse: Measures of Knowledge and Attitudes Among Six States (18 p.) by Stop It Now! (2010?). This research report discusses the outcomes of surveys of adults in six states over a ten year period on perceptions of child sexual abuse and issues related to it. Among the items discussed are willingness to intervene, history of childhood sexual abuse, and sex offender management beliefs.

Youth, Gender and Violence: Building a Movement for Gender Justice (30 p.) by Ms. Foundation for Women (2008). This symposium report discusses the value of deconstructing strict gender norms for both girls and boys, exploring the topic in the context of gender-based violence.

Communities and Organizations

Competing Meanings of Childhood: Implications for Sexual Abuse Prevention (Webcast recording) by Stop It Now! (2010). This webcast discusses the meaning of childhood and the shift in prevention focus from a victim-centered approach, which places responsibility largely on the child, to a socio-ecological model, which emphasizes multilevel change. *registration is required to view the webcast recording*

Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-based, nonpunitive alternatives to Zero Tolerance policies (12 p.) by Christopher Boccanfuso, Ph.D., and Megan Kuhfeld, B.S. (2011). This research brief discusses the implications of practicing a zero-tolerance discipline policy in an education setting. According to the research, students benefit more from skill-building, positive interaction based responses, and punitive responses to behavior or drug issues increase the risk for negative outcomes.

Transforming Communities to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation: A Primary Prevention Approach (20 p.) by Annie Lyles, Larry Cohen, and Margot Brown (2009). This policy brief discusses shifting the focus on child sexual abuse from reactive to preventative through engaging communities and redefining social norms. The guide promotes an approach to building a safe, health environments and behaviors for all.

What do US Adults Think about Child Sexual Abuse: Measures of Knowledge and Attitudes Among Six States (18 p.) by Stop It Now! (2010?). This research report discusses the outcomes of surveys of adults in six states over a ten year period on perceptions of child sexual abuse and issues related to it. Among the items discussed are willingness to intervene, history of childhood sexual abuse, and sex offender management beliefs.

Plans and Policies

Arizona Sexual Violence Primary Prevention and Education Eight Year Program Plan (29 p.) by Arizona Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Women’s and Children’s Health, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program (2010). This report summarizes and describes an eight year long statewide plan on prevention of sexual violence. The plan, which emphasizes best practices and evaluation-based prevention and education programs, seeks to create an environment in the state of Arizona that does not tolerate sexual violence.

Competing Meanings of Childhood: Implications for Sexual Abuse Prevention (Webcast recording) by Stop It Now! (2010). This webcast discusses the meaning of childhood and the shift in prevention focus from a victim-centered approach, which places responsibility largely on the child, to a socio-ecological model, which emphasizes multilevel change. *registration is required to view the webcast recording*

Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Primary Prevention Efforts (7 p.) by Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault (INCASA) 2009.This resource offers a sample of statewide efforts to incorporate primary prevention into sexual violence prevention. Many of the efforts incorporate or focus on work with youth and youth-serving organizations.

The National Plan to Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation (24 p.) by National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation (2012). This planning guide provides information on preventing abuse and exploitation of children in the physical and digital world. The plan takes a social change strategy in order to debunk the representation of children as sexualized and commercialized.

Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-based, nonpunitive alternatives to Zero Tolerance policies (12 p.) by Christopher Boccanfuso, Ph.D., and Megan Kuhfeld, B.S. (2011). This research brief discusses the implications of practicing a zero-tolerance discipline policy in an education setting. According to the research, students benefit more from skill-building, positive interaction based responses, and punitive responses to behavior or drug issues increase the risk for negative outcomes.

Education and Training Materials

Resources highlighted in this section provide background information, tools, and articles that may assist in training and educating staff, volunteers, and the community on the prevention of child sexual abuse. Community partners may include youth active in ending violence, collaborating organizations, and local businesses interested in getting more involved in improving their communities.

Brain Science, Technology, and Sexual Violence Prevention (podcast) by CALCASA (2010). This podcast, featuring Dr. Dave Walsh, discusses the brain function and development of adolescents, how it relates to technology use, and how that information can be used to prevent sexual violence.

Kid&TeenSafe: An abuse prevention program for youth with disabilities (65 p.) by Wendie H. Abramson and Iracema Mastroleo. This curriculum and accompanying explanation provides information for domestic and sexual violence prevention agencies on developing or implementing a prevention program for children or teens with disabilities.  The document provides information on risk and protective factors, needs assessment, and components of the Kids&TeenSafe curriculum.

Porn Use and Child Abuse (3 p.) by Tori DeAngelis (2009). This article suggests that viewing child pornography and sexually abusing children are likely to occur together. The author based this conclusion on a study performed on child pornography offenders in a treatment program.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (6 p.) by Prevent Child Abuse America (2005). This resource offers a basic overview of child sexual abuse prevention, including reasons to engage in prevention activities, the needs in prevention programming, and the shift of responsibility for preventing abuse from children to parents and other adults.

Preventing Child Sexual Abuse (270 p.) by NSVRC (2005). This resource directory provides information on the roles of various organizations and advocacy centers in preventing child sexual abuse, some of the research and resources available on the topic, and programs and curriculums which address the prevention of this social problem.

The Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse (26 p.) by David Finkelhor (2009). In this article the author discusses and analyzes two approaches to preventing sexual abuse of children. Finkelhor discusses offender management strategies and their outcomes, as well as school-based educational programs.

Additional Resources

Darkness to Light “The ultimate mission of D2L, to end childhood sexual abuse, can only be accomplished by sharing the solution of prevention, awareness and education with more and more people. This, in turn, builds momentum and over time, changes the way our nation and culture cares for, protects and nurtures our children.

Illuminations Program “Illuminations… artwork creating change…about being victim… about being a victimizer…Illuminations is one among many organizations providing a variety of programs and programming designed to raise and deepen awareness about the victimization of children for the general public. And like other such organizations, it also provides a wide spectrum of professionals with specialized training focused on fostering and refining skills related to the field of victimization.”

Learning Center for child and adolescent trauma provides continuing education credits, courses, publications, and collaborative spaces for education on child and adolescent trauma.

Partner in Prevention Program Details “A Partner in Prevention is an organization or business that has committed the time and effort to educate themselves on how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. An organization receives the D2L Partner in Prevention distinction when they have successfully met the annual guidelines established by D2L.”

Stop It Now! “Stop It Now! prevents the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed.”

Stop It Now! Online Help Center “If you are struggling with questions about child sexual abuse, we can help.  The Stop It Now! Online Help Center gives you the specialized information, guidance and support you need to take action.”

Stop the Silence “aim[s] to address the relationships between CSA and the broader issues of overall family and community violence, and violence within and between communities. Our focus underlines the importance of a shift in focus on positive development within our social complexes (e.g., the relationships between men, women, adults and children, cultural groups) to support peaceful - and to hinder violence-prone - relationships.”

True Child “TrueChild is devoted to bringing a "gender transformative" approach to policies and programs that affect the healthy development of children and youth. We do this by translating research and knowledge on the impact of gender stereotypes into a range of effective interventions, policies and other resources for the organizations and policy-makers. We are especially concerned with the challenges faced by disadvantaged young people, like those who are of color or LGBT.”

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