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Parents as Protectors: The Involvement of Parents in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention - Dr Julia Rudolph

Child sexual abuse (CSA) continues to be a problem for children worldwide, with a myriad of adverse personal, familial and societal consequences.

To date, primary prevention has focused almost exclusively on child education, teaching children how to recognise, resist and report sexual advances and victimization via school-based programs. Despite widespread support, child education lacks a sound theoretical base and questions remain about its effectiveness and appropriateness. Parental involvement in prevention has been limited, with the parental role restricted to that of educator.

However, research suggests that parents, even those knowledgeable about the risks, avoid teaching their children about the specifics of sexual abuse, preferring to discuss strangers and abduction dangers. Using sexual abuse theory and the concept of situational crime prevention, I propose two pathways that parents can be protective: 1) Directly, through the creation of safer environments via supervision, monitoring and involvement, and 2) Indirectly, through child well-being, achieved through positive parenting and healthy parent-child relationships.

In this presentation I will discuss the problems of child-targeted CSA prevention and present new opportunities for prevention; with the involvement of parents as protectors, rather than educators.