Sexual Abuse Prevention Education in Australian Primary Schools: A National Survey of Programs Academic Article uri icon


  • In the 2017 final report of the Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, recommendations noted the importance of school-based prevention efforts to create child-safe communities. In this study, we report on a national evaluation of the nature and availability of child sexual abuse prevention programs delivered in Australian primary schools. A survey instrument, anchored in empirical evidence, was distributed to all providers of child sexual abuse prevention programs in Australian primary schools serving children aged 4 to 13 years. Respondents were program coordinators or facilitators who provided data on 35 school-based child sexual abuse prevention programs that reached 631,720 children (approximately 26% of the Australian primary school student population) in 1 year. On average, each program reached 18,049 children in a calendar year (ranging from 200 to 80,000 children). Median child age for program exposure was 8 years. However, program duration was poorly reported so it was difficult to establish what program dosage was received. Most programs (80%-94%) covered specific item content, “always or often,” for 13 important areas of content, including five of seven items that had the strongest evidence of effectiveness, derived from a recent Cochrane Review (e.g., distinguishing appropriate and inappropriate touching). Programs less frequently addressed such content as safety in using technology and perpetrator strategies (e.g., grooming). The findings provide important information about the scope and nature of child sexual abuse prevention programs, and baseline data against which future program advancements can be tracked.


publication date

  • 2019