U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Teaching Personal Safety Skills to Young Children: An Investigation of Age and Gender Across Five Studies

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 21 Issue: 8 Dated: August 1997 Pages: 805-814
Sandy K. Wurtele; Julie Sarno Owens
Date Published
10 pages
Data from 406 preschool children who took part in either the Behavioral Skills Program or a control program formed the basis of an analysis of the extent to which preschool-aged boys and girls can benefit from instruction in personal safety intended to prevent and address child sexual abuse.
The Behavioral Skills Training program was a 5-day program that taught children personal safety skills from a behavioral perspective using a standard script. The data came from five previous studies conducted from 1990 to 1995. The participants ranged in age from 41 to 68 months, with an average age of 54.7 months. The research divided the children according to the median age into those ages 41 to 54 months and those ages 55 to 68 months to determine the effects of age. The children completed pretests and posttests to determine their gains in skills and knowledge. Preschoolers who had taken part in the Behavioral Skills Training program demonstrated greater knowledge and higher levels of personal safety skills than did the children in the control groups. Boys and girls reacted similarly to the program, as did children from younger and older age groups. Findings support the assertion that most children of preschool age can benefit from participating in a developmentally appropriate personal safety program. These findings resulted in suggestions for expansion of the efforts to prevent child sexual abuse so that children do not have the full responsibility for prevention of child sexual abuse. Tables and 40 references (Author abstract modified)