This study assessed evidence of the effectiveness of school-based education programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse.
The authors assessed evidence of the effectiveness of school‐based education programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse. Specifically, to assess whether: programs are effective in improving students' protective behaviors and knowledge about sexual abuse prevention; behaviors and skills are retained over time; and participation results in disclosures of sexual abuse, produces harms, or both. The studies included in this review show evidence of improvements in protective behaviours and knowledge among children exposed to school‐based programmes, regardless of the type of programme. The results might have differed had the true ICCs or cluster‐adjusted results been available. There is evidence that children's knowledge does not deteriorate over time, although this requires further research with longer‐term follow‐up. Programme participation does not generate increased or decreased child anxiety or fear, however there is a need for ongoing monitoring of both positive and negative short‐ and long‐term effects. The results show that programme participation may increase the odds of disclosure, however there is a need for more programme evaluations to routinely collect such data. Further investigation of the moderators of programme effects is required along with longitudinal or data linkage studies that can assess actual prevention of child sexual abuse. (Published abstract provided)