Kids taught about sexual abuse more likely to report it
A team of researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, studied 5,802 elementary and high school students from countries around the world to test the value of educational programs in schools. They discovered that 14 in 1,000 students reported sexual abuse when sex abuse programs were offered. When students did not receive sexual abuse prevention programs, only four in 1,00 reported cases of abuse.
The researchers also found that children who did participate in an education program were more prone to try and protect themselves in simulated scenarios involving interaction with strangers.
In-school sexual abuse programs educate students on how to effectively recognize, react and report abuse. Programs would typically educate children on “safety rules, body ownership,” and, recognizing “different types of touch,” as well as the proper person to tell. The researchers compiled data from 24 programs in countries such as China, Germany, Spain and the US for the study, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Researchers also noted that the programs did not cause any negative side effects, or increases in anxiety or worry, but advised that the results should be taken “cautiously.” Although some cases showed children remembered what they learned up to six months later, experts criticized that there is no guarantee a child will react the same way in real life as displayed in the class. They stress that simulations don’t reflect the reality of sexual abuse, since most children are abused by someone they know.