Sexual Abuse Programs Evaluated

May 1988
Society;May/Jun88, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p4
Academic Journal
This article evaluates the preschool programs aimed at training small children in the U.S. to resist sexual abuse. In a two-year study of 118 preschoolers conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, the researchers evaluated seven programs operating under the designation of "child abuse prevention training" in seven California counties. A major conclusion of the study was that the children were too young to understand the concepts or the feelings and behaviors being taught. Where there was some effect, the study raised questions about the desirability of the outcome. After the training, for example, children were more likely than before to identify pictures of bunnies representing familiar human interactions--such as bathing and tickling--with feelings of sadness. In the area of sexually related behaviors, the Berkeley group expressed concern that the prevention programs were coopting family control over matters of the most intimate and profound importance.


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