Evaluating Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Strategies
Child sexual abuse is a grave yet preventable public health problem that affects approximately 17 percent of U.S. girls and 5 percent of U.S. boys. Child sexual abuse increases victims’ risk for mental, physical, and behavioral health disorders, for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, and for self-inflicted injury, substance use, and violence. Youth-serving organizations can contribute to a public health approach to preventing child sexual abuse, given their mission to enhance youth well-being. Youth-serving organizations develop and implement an extensive array of child sexual abuse prevention strategies that influence virtually every aspect of organizational practice, including hiring procedures, training procedures, codes of conduct, adult-youth interactions, and even physical settings. However, none of these strategies have been evaluated for their effectiveness in preventing sexual abuse, leaving the scientific community and youth serving organizations still searching for strong, coherent, comprehensive and practically viable responses that improve youth safety.
Elizabeth Letourneau, PhD, and her team have developed a comprehensive and novel survey instrument to assess child sexual abuse victimization and pre-abuse grooming behaviors in youth serving organizations. This novel instrument is the first of its kind to evaluate whether, and to what extent, modern youth serving organizations’ child sexual abuse prevention strategies are associated with a reduced likelihood that youth participants experienced child sexual abuse victimization or pre-abuse grooming behaviors. For more information, contact Elizabeth Letourneau at ElizabethLetourneau@jhu.edu.