Programs that Work
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Teacher Training Workshop
Healthy and Safe Children
Children not experiencing physical, psychological or emotional abuse
Age of Child
Early Childhood (0-8)
Middle Childhood (9-12)
Type of Setting
Type of Service
Type of Outcome Addressed
Child Abuse and Neglect
Evidence Level (What does this mean?)
The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Teacher Training Workshop Curriculum was developed in 1988 to train and prepare teachers to more adequately respond to the problem of child sexual abuse. The training was developed with the idea that teachers are in a good position to respond to sexually abused children because they have increased accessibility to children in their classrooms and because they have training in child development.
The six-hour program presents classroom teachers from kindergarten through twelfth grade with general knowledge on child sexual abuse and attempts to increase their awareness of the problem. The training provides an opportunity for teachers to (1) explore their own sexual and abuse-related issues and opinions; (2) determine and build upon their knowledge of the symptoms of abuse; and (3) understand their legal and ethical responsibilities as teachers.
The program uses a variety of educational tools to help teachers better understand, recognize, and respond appropriately to child sexual abuse. Those tools include lectures, videotapes, role-playing, pencil and paper activities, question-and-answer sessions, and group discussions. The training is conducted by individuals with expertise in child sexual abuse, such as school psychologists or staff from a child abuse center. In addition, community experts—including therapists, pediatricians, social workers, detectives, and attorneys—can be brought in to discuss their involvement with child sexual abuse.
In the studies done so far, classroom teachers in grades K–12 have been trained in the curriculum, with most of the participating teachers in elementary education. The studies were all conducted in the southeastern United States. Participating teachers in one study were randomly selected by age, grade level, and gender, while only female teachers were used in another study. Trained teachers were responsible for teaching entire classrooms. However, the studies primarily examined outcomes for teachers rather than for students.
In 1988, an evaluation of the program took place with 45 female third and fourth grade teachers from one school district in suburban Atlanta, Georgia (Kleemeier et al.). The volunteer teachers were assigned randomly as either training program participants (26 teachers) or nonparticipants (19 teachers). Two psychologists with expertise in child sexual abuse conducted the training. Nonparticipants received written materials about child sexual abuse after the study was completed.
In 1994, another study of the program took place with 42 volunteer male and female K–12 teachers from one school district in rural Hendersonville, North Carolina (Randolph and Gold, 1994). The teachers were assigned randomly by gender and grade level to be either training participants (21 teachers) or nonparticipants (21 teachers). Five speakers, including the school system’s psychologist, representatives from a regional child abuse center, and representatives from the local Department of Social Services, presented the training. Teachers not participating in the program had an opportunity to take part in the training the year after the study was completed.
A third study (Hazzard, Kleemeier, and Webb, 1990) used a different design and compared three different types of trained instructors. One group contained 15 regular teachers teaching in their own classrooms. A second group was made up of eight lead teachers teaching in unfamiliar classrooms. The third group consisted of expert consultants who taught in ten classrooms with which they were unfamiliar.
Only the last study evaluated the outcomes for the children. The other two examined only teacher perceptions.
Key Evaluation Findings
Kleemeier, et al. (1988) found that:
- Trained teachers’ knowledge of the scope of abuse, dynamics of abuse, indicators of abuse, reporting procedures, treatment alternatives, and prevention increased dramatically compared with control teachers.
- Trained teachers were more likely to acknowledge the severity of an abuse problem, more likely to see child protective services as helpful, more supportive of prevention services, and more confident that they could play a helpful role in addressing the problem of abuse.
- The control group teachers went from having a pre-test average of 14.2 on the 30-item knowledge scale to having a post-test average of 13.6, whereas the treatment group teachers went from having a pre-test average of 14.8 to a having post-test average of 23.3.
- On a 25-item opinion scale in which teachers were scored from 0 to 3 on each item, the control teachers’ average scores went from 54.9 to 52.8 whereas treatment teachers’ average scores went from 52.1 to 56.6.
- On an eight-item vignette test that was given only as a post-test, teachers were scored based on the number of behavioral indicators they assessed correctly, the applicability of the recommended action, and amount of warmth and openness that the teacher conveyed. Control teachers scored an average of 25.2 versus an average of 35.7 for treatment teachers.
Hazzard, Kleemeier, and Webb (1990) found that:
- There was no significant difference in the impact of programs conducted by teachers versus child abuse expert consultants.
- Children who were taught by the trained teachers, as compared with those children in the control groups, showed significant increases in knowledge about sexual abuse and these gains were still present at six-week and one-year follow-ups. Third graders went from having a pre-test average of 17.3 on a 25-item scale to having a post-test average of 21.7. Fourth graders went from having a pre-test average of 18.8 to having a post-test average of 22.4.
Randolph and Gold (1994) found that:
- Trained teachers were able to apply their knowledge to hypothetical situations more easily.
- Trained teachers reported spending more time in “discussions of child abuse issues with a friend or colleague,” “classroom activities or discussions about abuse,” and “discussions with individual children about possible abuse” than did control teachers.
- On a 30-item knowledge scale, untrained teachers went from having a pre-test average of 19.62 to a having a post-test average of 19.57. Trained teachers went from having a pre-test average of 18.29 to having a post-test average of 25.43.
- On the opinion scale similar to the one used by Kleemeier et al., untrained teachers scored 50.24 on the pre-test and 50.10 on the post-test, versus the trained teachers who scored 50.52 on the pre-test and 57.00 on the post-test.
- The post-test vignette average score for the untrained teachers was 25.14 versus 44.24 for the trained teachers.
Public, private, or parochial schools; social service or public health educators; state and local child abuse prevention agencies.
The National Institutes of Mental Health funded these studies. The training could be funded by school districts, state governments, federal grants, or community organizations.
- Teachers are trained with a six-hour training curriculum (the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Teacher Training Workshop Curriculum) designed to improve teacher skills in the area of child sexual abuse.
- The training in the studies was a voluntary rather than mandatory part of the teacher’s job so as to minimize any potential trauma for teachers who may have been abused in the past.
- The trainers in the studies tried to make the program as culturally sensitive as possible to be able to reach all participants.
The Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Teacher Training Workshop Curriculum is a six-hour intervention training that helps teachers to recognize behavioral and physical symptoms of sexual abuse, respond appropriately to disclosures, and report sexual abuse cases. It was designed by a group of teachers from a suburban Atlanta school district in 1988. (See Available Resources.)
This program has been tried with regular classroom teachers, lead teachers, and outside experts. The program seemed to work equally well with all groups; therefore, the program can be staffed easily by classroom teachers.
Issues to Consider
This program received a “promising” rating. Evaluations indicate that the teacher trainings have produced some positive results. However, a majority of the research has examined outcomes only for participating teachers and not for the children. Because the result area and benchmark that are affected by this program are related to children being safe, the evaluations only indirectly address the issue of child sexual abuse. Furthermore, the evaluation that included children’s outcomes measured the program’s impact on intermediary outcomes—children’ s knowledge of what constitutes abuse—but did not measure changes in abuse itself or how abuse cases are handled. In general, this program seems to be very effective in making teachers better able to respond to child sexual abuse and the children better able to distinguish between what is appropriate and what isn’t. However, no research has been done to determine how often the indications of abuse are correct or whether children are getting the appropriate help after a real case of abuse is discovered.
Any K–12 teacher could be trained on this curriculum, but it is difficult to say whether it would be applicable for all students because student outcomes were studied only to determine whether there were any changes in knowledge about abuse. Two of the three studies used a control group of teachers who were not given the training. However, both of these studies looked only at differences in the amount of knowledge that either teachers or students had on sexual abuse. The third study did not use a control group but looked at differences among the three types of trainers. None of the studies looked at differences in abuse rates or how abuse was handled.
Atlanta, GA., and Hendersonville, NC.
Ann Hazzard, Ph.D.
Pediatric Continuity Clinic
PO Box 26065
80 Butler Street, SE
Atlanta, GA 30303
phone: (404) 616-4875
The Teacher Training Workshop Curriculum is available from Dr. Ann Hazzard (see the Contact Information).
Hazzard, A., Kleemeier, C., & Webb, C.
Teacher Versus Expert Presentations of Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs
1990. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 5: 23-36
Kleemeier, C., Webb, C., Hazzard, A. & Pohl, J. Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Evaluation of a Teacher Training Model 1988. Child Abuse & Neglect, 12: 555-561.
Randolph, M. K., & Gold, C.A. Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Evaluation of a Teacher Training Program 1994. School Psychology Review, 23(3): 485-495.