Sex abuse prevention programs: Offenders' attitudes about their efficacy

Little scientific basis exists for the content of school-based programs which are intended to help children protect themselves from sexual abuse. Children are taught about protecting themselves from a stereotypical old male stranger, yet perpetrators are most frequently young, known to the victim, and use a variety of methods to gain access to children. Programs generally include concepts of body ownership, acceptable touching, good vs. bad secrets, saying no, telling, and trusting one's intuition. Seventy-two prison inmates incarcerated for child sexual abuse were surveyed to evaluate their attitudes about the effectiveness of topics intended to prevent abuse. Offenders described the ideal victim and the modus operandi they used to involve children. Inmates indicated which topics in prevention programs they believed were efficacious and which topics would have little value in preventing abuse. Responses of incestuous and nonincestuous abusers were compared. Inmates indicated that parents could help prevent child abuse and that they must be involved if programs are to be effective. Information from abusers is useful and can be incorporated into programs if the potential for prevention of abuse is to be improved
Author: 
Budin,Lee Eric
Johnson,Charles Felzen
Reprint Status: 
IN FILE
Start Page: 
77
End Page: 
87
Journal/Periodical Name: 
Child Abuse Neglect
Volume: 
13
Issue: 
1
Abstract: 
This study assessed sex abuse prevention education methods for children by drawing upon input from 72 convicted sex abusers at a correctional facility in Ohio. Perpetrators were surveyed concerning how they approached children, how they solicited children as victims, how they prevented children from reporting, and how they would prevent the sexual abuse of children. Results revealed that incestuous perpetrators used similar tactics as non-incestuous perpetrators to gain the trust of children. However, certain methods were used more frequently by incestuous perpetrators than non-incestuous perpetrators. For example, non-incestuous perpetrators were more likely to give their victims toys, to use the victim's friend, and to acquire victims who had been previously victimized by the perpetrator's friends. Overall, perpetrators tended to focus their tactics on children who were described as passive, troubled, lonely, and from broken homes. The perpetrators' perceptions of the efficacy of sex abuse prevention methods were also assessed. The perpetrators in this study suggest that children should be taught to report abuse, to say no to assailants, to be educated about proper handling of their genitalia, and to refrain from getting into cars with strangers. While there are significant limitations to this type of study, input from abusers may provide useful information for strengthening child abuse prevention programs.
Topic Areas: 
Perpetration; prevention; vulnerability
Reference Type: 
JOUR
Reference ID: 
2370
Publication Date: 
1989