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Backgrounder - Violence Prevention Awards - early intervention

Media Release

24 November 1998

Inspiration for the Children's Sexual Behaviours Program was drawn from the fact that a proportion of child victims of sexual assault in Australia showed aggressive behaviours and from the Program Coordinator's experience working as a clinical psychologist with adult sex offenders in the British prison system.

"I discovered 25% of incarcerated sexual offenders described having commenced their sexually aggressive behaviour between the ages of 7-10 years", Ms Jari Evertsz said.

Concerning sexual behaviour by children includes: inappropriate sexual touching of others; threats to carry out sexual behaviours to others; forcing others into sexual activity; sexual penetration of other children; masturbating in public; exposing private parts in public; and talking sexually to others which involves aggression or intimidation.

The 21 week program takes a non-stigmatising approach, focussing on the child's strengths and abilities. It aims to promote empathy for other's experiences and feelings; enhance communication and positive interaction; develop responsibility for and identify triggers to behaviour; provide alternative methods of dealing with difficult feelings; and improve children's self-esteem and self-confidence.

Since the program began in 1994, approx. 75% of participants have not required any further statutory intervention; participants and families report better communication and an increased sense of trust; and demand for the service has increased by 400%.

Education and Awareness

When the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (CSAPP) was established in 1995, it was the first school-based sexual abuse prevention program in Australia.

CSAPP provides education and support to children from 5-18 years, and includes specialist programs for children with disabilities, children in care and homeless young people. In addition to child-focussed programs, CSAPP also provides workshops for parents, teachers and other professionals who work with youth.

An evaluation of the program indicated 5% of students who had participated in the program subsequently avoided a potentially abusive situation; and children and teachers had made substantial knowledge and skill gains.

Over 6000 children and young people have taken part in the program, which has also generated significant international interest, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Canada and the United Nations (Geneva).

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