Since the 1980s, school-based child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention programs have been the prevailing prevention strategy in the United States. Despite demonstrated effectiveness, there is a lack of infrastructure and educational policy ensuring all students receive these programs. A pragmatic application of the RE-AIM implementation framework, this study provides an overview of a multi-county implementation effort of the school-based CSA prevention program, Safe Touches. Implementation efforts across five counties in a Mid-Atlantic state are described at three levels: organizational (school districts), child, and program facilitator. Children’s CSA-related knowledge was measured at four time points: pre-workshop, immediately post-workshop, and then 6 and 12 months post-workshop. Facilitators completed an anonymous survey post-implementation. Over the course of one and a half academic years, Safe Touches was implemented in 718 public school districts, reaching in total 14,235 second-grade students. Students’ significantly increased knowledge from pre- to post-workshop and gains were maintained at 6 and 12 months (ps <.001). A total of 29 disclosures of maltreatment were made by students to facilitators during or after the workshop. Facilitators generally adopted Safe Touches and attested to the feasibility and benefits of its large-scale implementation as well as the negligible negative impacts for children. When implemented systematically, school-based CSA prevention is able to reach a high number of students, effectively increase CSA-related knowledge, and facilitates disclosures. To maximize the potential public health impact, it is suggested that state funds be allocated to support the implementation of such programs as part of standard education costs.
- child sexual abuse
- school-based prevention
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Nursing (miscellaneous)