Sydney, April 17:
Teaching children in schools about sexual abuse give them courage to report abuse, finds a study, suggesting that such kids are more likely than others to tell an adult if they had, or were actually experiencing sexual abuse.
It is estimated that worldwide at least one in 10 girls and one in 20 boys experience some form of sexual abuse in childhood.
Those who are sexually abused as children are more susceptible to depression, eating disorders, suicidal behaviour and drug and alcohol problems later in life, and are more likely to become victims of sexual assault as adults.
In many countries, children are taught how to recognise, react to and report abuse situations through school-based programmes designed to help prevent sexual abuse.
“Our review supports the need to inform and protect children against sexual abuse,” said lead author Kerryann Walsh of the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia.
For the study, the team reviewed data from 24 trials in which a total of 5,802 children took part in school-based prevention programmes in the US, Canada, China, Germany, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey.
Schools involved in the trials used a variety of methods like films, plays, songs, puppets, books and games to teach children about sexual abuse, including teaching of safety rules, body ownership and who to tell.
In children who did not receive the intervention, around four in 1,000 children disclosed some form of sexual abuse.
“This contrasts with 14 in 1,000 children in the intervention groups who disclosed some form of sexual abuse,” Walsh noted.
“To really know whether these programmes are working, we need to see larger studies with follow-up all the way to adulthood,” he contended.
The review appeared in the journal Cochrane Library. (IANS)