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Awarded Research Grant to Prevent Violence and Violence-Related Injury

CSA Prevention Training for Child Care Professionals: Stewards of Children

FOA Number: CE06-004: Grants for Violence-Related Injury Prevention Research
Project Period: 9/1/2006 – 8/31/2009
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000890-01
Principal Investigator: Rheingold, Alyssa Ann
National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center
Medical University of South Carolina
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Charleston, South Carolina


Given the significant rates of child sexual abuse (CSA) in the United States (12%), as well as the deleterious consequences for victims exposed to such maltreatment, identifying an effective prevention program is clearly a priority. As discussed in Healthy People 2010, "the evaluation of ongoing programs is a major component to help identify effective approaches for violence prevention." There is growing awareness that child care professionals, such as teachers, child care personnel, and clergy, are in a unique position to identify possible sexual abuse cases and intervene on behalf of children by virtue of their accessibility to children and their expertise in child development. Programs to train child care professionals about child maltreatment have received insufficient attention and evaluation. The primary goal of this study is to conduct a multi-site controlled evaluation of an already existing CSA prevention program, Darkness To Light's Stewards of Children, on impacting child care professionals' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior related to CSA. Darkness to Light (DTL), a national non-profit organization seeking to protect children from sexual abuse, has developed a three hour training program for child care professionals to assist them in understanding, recognizing, and appropriately responding to CSA. DTL's sexual abuse prevention training is offered via an m-person training format and soon via a web-based training format. Investigating best implementation strategies is also a key issue in developing and implementing cost effective programs aimed to prevent CSA. This proposed project involves 300 child care professionals recruited from children advocacy centers across three states to be randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) in-person training, (2) web- based training, or (3) no training exposure. Dependant variables will include measures of CSA knowledge, attitudes about CSA, self report preventative behaviors, response to hypothetical behavioral vignettes, and organizational policy and behavior changes. The current proposal involves a joint collaboration between well-established researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina's National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, a non-profit community organization Darkness to Light, as well as partnering children's advocacy centers across several states.