Child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers: A synthesis of current evidence

Dr Claudia Pitts

March 2015

ISBN 978-1-925289-14-5

Executive summary

The aim of this evidence review is to determine the efficacy of pre-school child sexual abuse prevention programs.

A literature search identified 113 potential articles: a review of abstracts and full text refined the list to a selection of 23 articles that were included in the present evidence review.

Child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers appear to be effective at increasing young children’s ability to detect inappropriate touch requests, and increase their behavioural skills around what to do and say, who to tell and what to report if confronted by an inappropriate touch request.

Prevention programs for pre-schoolers are well received by parents and pre-school teachers, and appear not to have adverse effects (for example, increases in fear and anxiety) for pre-schoolers.

There is very limited evidence to suggest whether child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers have an effect on rates of disclosure of child sexual abuse.

Very few studies have evaluated the cost effectiveness of child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers.

Study limitations, including very small samples sizes, limit the generalisability of results. More methodologically rigorous studies using large, culturally diverse samples of pre-schoolers are required before strong conclusions can be made about the overall efficacy of child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers.