Increasing Knowledge of Sexual Abuse: A Study With Elementary School Children in Hawai‘i

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Research on Social Work Practice


child sexual abuse, school based, prevention, train-the-trainer model


Objective: Child sexual abuse is a significant health problem with potential long-term consequences for victims. Therefore, prevention and education programs are critical. This preliminary study evaluates changes in children’s knowledge of sexual abuse using a school-based train-the-trainer curriculum. Emphasis was placed on developing a curriculum that considered the unique cultural context in Hawai‘i. Method: School staff who had been trained on how to implement the My Body, My Boundaries curriculum, which targets the third to fifth grade, were invited to participate in the study. Three schools agreed; students in third grade classrooms in two schools received the curriculum and students in the third school served as the comparison. Result: Children in intervention schools significantly increased their knowledge of appropriate and inappropriate touch and what to do if they experience sexual abuse. Conclusion: Findings suggest the utility of a train-the-trainer model in social work practice to address sensitive topics such as child sexual abuse.