Knowledge Gains from the Implementation of a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program and the Future of School-Based Prevention Education

Kate Guastaferro, Stacey L. Shipe, Christian M. Connell, Jacqueline L. Holloway, Mary L. Pulido, Jennie G. Noll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


School-based child sexual abuse (CSA) programs effectively increase students’ CSA-related knowledge. This study focuses on an implementation trial of Safe Touches, an empirically supported, school-based CSA prevention program, that was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We sought to demonstrate gains in CSA-related knowledge following Safe Touches but were limited to a pre-post design. A total of 2,210 students across five counties in a Mid-Atlantic state received the Safe Touches workshop between September 2019 and March 2020. McNemar’s chi-square test was used to assess changes in the proportion of correct responses pre-workshop (Time 1) and one-week post-workshop (Time 2). Students’ CSA-related knowledge increased significantly based on changes in mean CSA knowledge scores and the number of correct item-level responses assessed at Time 1 and Time 2 (p <.000). Leveraging the experience of the facilitators’ who delivered these workshops prior to the disruption of implementation, we gathered facilitators’ perspectives to explore the viability of offering Safe Touches virtually. In July 2020, 16 facilitators completed an electronic survey designed to understand the viability of a virtual Safe Touches workshop. Three themes emerged from facilitator feedback on virtual programming: student engagement concerns, handling disclosures, and technology access to a virtual program. The findings of this study indicate that the Safe Touches workshop significantly increased CSA-related knowledge and, overall, facilitators supported further exploration and development of a virtual Safe Touches workshop. The transition of empirically supported school-based CSA prevention programs to a virtual delivery modality is necessary to maintain an effective means of primary prevention and opportunity for disclosure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)845-859
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Child sexual abuse
  • intervention
  • school-based prevention
  • virtual delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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