Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

Primary Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

FOA Number: CE03-027 – New Investigator Training Awards for Injury Research
Project Period: 9/1/2003 – 8/31/2005
Application/Grant Number: 1 R49 CE423142-01
Principal Investigator: Alyssa Ann Rheingold, PhD
Medical University of South Carolina
Charleston, SC


Changing community attitudes, knowledge, and behavior is a crucial first step towards primary prevention of CSA. The research plan for this award is divided into two complimentary studies to increase our understanding of the effects of a community-based media program aimed at raising awareness of the prevalence and consequences of CSA and educating the public about related prevention and response strategies. The primary goal of the first study is to conduct a controlled evaluation of mass media products developed by From Darkness to Light (DTL), a national non-profit organization seeking to protect children from sexual abuse. Participants will be assigned to one of four conditions: public service announcements, educational booklet, public service announcements plus educational booklet, and no media exposure. Participants will be surveyed immediately following exposure to the media products and one month later to determine the efficacy of the various prevention strategies for improving adults’ knowledge, attitudes, and preventive behaviors regarding CSA. The second study will assess the feasibility of this intervention by obtaining community members’ perceptions, opinions, and recommendations about the content and presentation of the media campaign by conducting six ethnically homogeneous focus groups. Results from these two studies will provide useful information for approaching the problem of CSA prevention and possible strategies for refining prevention messages.