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Protecting Young Children from Sexual Abuse: Does Preschool Training Work?

NCJ Number
N Gilbert; J D Berrick; N Le Prohn; N Nyman
Date Published
160 pages
California has implemented a comprehensive child abuse prevention education program, one that encompasses sexual abuse prevention education at the preschool level.
Under the Child Abuse Prevention Training Act of 1984 (CAPTA), California provides about $11 million annually for age-appropriate training that focuses on the preschool level but continues intermittently through grade 12. The training programs include parent and teacher workshops, as well as classroom instruction for children. While the programs are intended to cover the full range of abusive and neglectful behavior, in practice they focus on the prevention of sexual abuse. In studying the California experience of child abuse prevention education at the preschool level, the analysis covers the sociopolitical background of the CAPTA, the curriculum design and philosophy of seven prevention programs throughout the State, the impact of educational programs on children and parents, and curriculum content in light of cognitive development and normative considerations. The analysis concludes that preschool education should be phased out in favor of areas or populations for which sexual abuse prevention programs can realize more definite gains. Because it is contended that the responsibility for child abuse prevention should be left to parents and teachers, the recommendation is made that resources currently used in preschools be allocated to train parents, teachers, and possibly community leaders. An appendix describes a game for use in preschool sexual abuse prevention education. 190 footnotes, 16 tables, 5 figures.