Royal Commission releases report on effectiveness of current child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers

Royal Commission releases report on effectiveness of current child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers

The Royal Commission has released a report that reviews evidence of the effectiveness of child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers.

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said “The report found that current child sexual abuse prevention programs for pre-schoolers appear to be effective at increasing children’s ability to recognise inappropriate touching and that in general, this knowledge is maintained over time.

“The report also found current programs increase pre-schoolers behavioural skills around what to do and say and who to tell if they experienced inappropriate touching.

“Current prevention programs for pre-schoolers are well received by parents and pre-school teachers, and do not appear to increase fear or anxiety in children, one of the common criticisms of these programs.

“The report concludes that more rigorous studies using large, culturally diverse samples of pre-schoolers are required before strong conclusions can be made about the effectiveness of these programs,” he said.

Mr Reed said the views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the final views of the Royal Commission.

“This report offers valuable insight into what steps the Royal Commission should take to ensure its recommendations bring about lasting change in institutions and create a safer future for children.”

Read the full report (PDF 514 KB).

About the report


Key findings include:

  • Child sexual abuse prevention programs for preschoolers appear to be effective at increasing young children’s ability to detect inappropriate touch requests, and increase their behavioural skills around what to do and say, who to tell and what to report if confronted by an inappropriate touch request. Inappropriate touch requests are verbal and nonverbal signals from adults to touch or look at the child’s private parts, or for the child to touch or look at the adult’s.

  • Prevention programs for preschoolers are well received by parents and preschool teachers, and appear not to have adverse effects (e.g. increases in fear and anxiety) for preschoolers.

  • There is very limited evidence available to suggest that child sexual abuse prevention programs for preschoolers have an effect on rates of disclosure of child sexual abuse.

  • More methodologically rigorous studies using large, culturally diverse samples of preschoolers are required before strong conclusions can be made about the overall efficacy of child sexual abuse prevention programs for preschoolers.

  • More research is needed to determine the size of the effect of prevention programs; the extent to which training during preschool years acts as a critical foundation for later learning; whether some groups benefit more than others; and optimal instructional techniques to maximize learning and behavioural outcomes from young children.