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Little Warriors to host workshops on preventing sexual abuse

Sessions are scheduled locally for February and April

  • Dec. 28, 2016 6:41 p.m.

Little Warriors will hold two adult education classes in Red Deer next year on how to prevent child sex abuse (CSA). Thanks to a study that concluded this year, the organization can now say that its workshops work indeed.

The Prevent It! program teaches participants how to recognize such abuse, talk about it and what to do when confronted with a child who’s experienced it. Since piloting it last year, a study into its efficacy has been conducted by the University of Alberta’s psychiatry department.

In August, results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Psychology, with co-authors Erin Martin and Peter Silverstone writing that they “strongly support” the workshop’s intentions to increase adults’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours regarding CSA.

The study had 312 participants, rated three times on their behaviours and observations: a baseline before attending Prevent It!, after, plus a follow-up three months later.

Most participants were women between 30 to 39 years old. About one-third were CSA survivors themselves.

Some of the questions they were asked included: the number of times from the previous three months they talked about CSA or healthy sexual development; the number of times they suspected a child was abused and the number of times they took steps to protect a child.

There were “statistically significant improvements.”

The number of subjects looking for evidence of CSA increased from 46% from the baseline survey, to 81% after the follow-up.

More subjects were taking steps to protect children, from 25% to 48% after the follow-up.

Some of those measures included being a responsible role model for other adults. Within an organizational context, steps could include conducting criminal record checks, child welfare checks and monitoring one-on-one time between adults and children.

With this evidence in hand, a spokesperson for Little Warriors said it’s time to get people to take Prevent It!

“Now we can say we have the research behind it to say that this workshop works to educate adults to prevent child sexual abuse. So we’ll continue approaching organizations, getting the word out that we have this workshop, and that it is impactful,” said Shannon Phelan, communications.

“We would love to get into school districts and youth-serving organizations.”

Little Warriors has its two sessions scheduled for Feb. 25th and April 22nd at the Central Alberta Training Zone.

The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Register online at http://littlewarriors.ca/prevention/workshop.

There is also an online version that lasts about 90 minutes, Phelan said.

Phelan shares a story of a friend who worked as a dental hygienist, to show why the workshop exists.

She said one day, a young girl climbed into the dental chair and revealed that she had been abused. Phelan said her friend had no idea what to do.

“We educate the adults on what to do should you receive a disclosure. How do you handle that appropriately,” she said.

Her goal is to get as many who work with children, either in a vocational or volunteer role, to take Prevent It! — so that the abuse doesn’t happen in the first place.

“Our wish is that no parent has to wonder what to do because their child’s been sexually abused,” she said.

joseph.ho@reddeerexpress.com

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