Online Program

Comprehensive Sexuality Education as Primary Prevention for Childhood Sexual Abuse

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ann Schaeffer, MEd, CNM, MSN, School of Nursing, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA
Donna Schminkey, PhD, MPH, CNM, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Sexual abuse affects 1 in 6 boys, and 1 in 4 girls under the age of 18.  Traditional primary prevention of sexual abuse has focused on short-format educational programs about “good touch/bad touch,” “stranger danger,” and notifying an adult; yet the prevalence of sexual abuse in children remains relatively unchanged.  Research on perpetrators of sexual abuse indicates that offenders deliberately look for and choose vulnerable children.  Some research, and anecdotal evidence from professionals in this field, suggests that perpetrators seek children who are naïve about their bodies, and under-educated about sexuality.  Comprehensive sexuality education, as opposed to abstinence based sex education, is associated with decreased teen pregnancy rates, increased condom and contraceptive use, and delayed onset of sexual debut.  Comprehensive sex education is typically delivered over several months or years, creating a culture and space for ongoing delivery of information to youth about their bodies and sexuality.  It seems possible that comprehensive sex education would also be effective primary prevention for sexual abuse, as participants would presumably be less naïve, and better informed about sexuality in general, making them less appealing as victims to perpetrators.  However, the potential link between comprehensive sex education and reduction in sexual abuse has not been fully explored in the literature.  This systematic review of the research on comprehensive sexuality education as primary prevention of childhood sexual abuse was conducted using four databases (PubMed, PsychInfo,ERIC and CINAHL) .  In-depth analysis of the findings are explored and summarized, and directions for future research are suggested.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the role that comprehensive sexuality education can play as a primary prevention strategy to decrease child sexual abuse.

Keyword(s): Child Abuse, Prevention

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As an advance practice nurse and Assistant Professor of Nursing (Maternal Child Health), I have provided sexuality education in a variety of settings, to a wide range of participants. I have also treated victims of childhood sexual abuse, and held board positions for community organizations that focus on these issues. Now, years of practice and teaching are focusing me toward research on the specific ways that comprehensive sexuality education can improve the health of communities.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
The Collins Center Sexual Abuse Prevention Advisory Committee/Board

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.