Background Child sexual abuse (CSA) has been a widespread health and safety problem in China, therefore, effective prevention program is strongly needed. Both school and home are essential settings for children to acquire safety knowledge.
Objective The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a sexual abuse prevention curriculum toward children and to compare the knowledge gains between children who were taught by teachers and by their parents.
Methods Four hundred and eighty-four school-age children, recruited from one primary school in Beijing, China, were randomly assigned to a CSA prevention program administered by teachers or by their parents or to a wait-list control group. The curriculum was teaching-based, including interactive learning (e.g. discussions, role-plays) to help children rehearse self-protection skill. For the teacher education group, the curriculum was administered to children by trained teachers and finished in three 30 min sessions. For the parent education group, the exact same curriculum contents and practices as taught in the teacher education group were compiled into a handbook, so that parents could read and tutor their children. Repeated-measure Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) was performed to test the effect of time and group.
Findings Children in the teacher education group demonstrated the highest level of CSA prevention knowledge and skills, followed by the parent education group, while children in the control group showed the least improvements. Significant group by time interaction effects were found. The knowledge and skills gains were retained at a 12 week follow up.
Conclusion Chinese school-age children can benefit from CSA prevention program with increased knowledge and skills of personal safety whether taught by their teachers or parents. School-based CSA prevention education is recommended to be implemented in other regions of China.
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