Body Safety Training

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Summary

A series of ten lessons for parents or teachers to deliver to children aged 3-8 which cover body safety as well as general safety.

Type of intervention

Individual work, classroom setting

Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups

  • Children and Young People (Victims) | Primary prevention | Young Children (0-5 years), Children (6-11 years) | Male and female | Individual work, classroom setting | English, Spanish

 

Target population

Children aged 3 to 8 years old.

Delivery organisation

Dr. Sandy Wurtele (USA)

Mode and context of delivery

The programme involves a workbook that adults can work through with children, of which there are two versions: one that teachers can use with small groups of children in school, and another that parents can use at home one-on-one with a child.

Level/nature of staff expertise required

Parents and teachers can use the programme with children.

Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)

The programme consists of ten lessons.

Description of intervention

The Body Safety Training (BST)© programme was created by Dr. Wurtele in 1986 and revised in 2007. The programme consists of a workbook (two slightly different versions; one for teachers and one for parents) which have also been translated into Spanish.

Both versions of the workbook contain ten lessons; the first half of the workbook covers general safety (fire, gun, pedestrian, poison, home alone) and the second half covers body safety (teaching children the body-safety skills of recognising, resisting, and reporting inappropriate touching).

BST learning objectives include the 5 “R”s (a) helping children recognise potentially abusive situations or potential abusers, (b) encouraging children to refuse sexual requests by saying ‘No’, (c) teaching children to resist by getting away from the perpetrator, (d) encouraging children to report previous or ongoing abuse to a trusted authority figure and (e) explaining that secret or inappropriate touching is never the child’s responsibility (Wurtele, 2008).

The BST teaches the “R”s by way of multiple examples (stories with accompanying pictures) and provides ample opportunity for children to practice the skills (using a behavioural approach). BST consists of several stories (each story has an accompanying picture) about children in situations, either safe or potentially dangerous, with various people (potential abusers include a stranger, cousin, aunt, babysitter, uncle, a school employee, a neighbour, and a father). Most (80%) are male and all victims are children, with half being male and half female. Self-protection skills are taught by using instruction, modeling, behavioural rehearsal, social reinforcement and feedback.

Evaluations

The effectiveness of the BST in teaching children body-safety rules and skills has been demonstrated in numerous studies. A series of experimental studies with preschoolers in the USA demonstrated that BST participants as young as 3 years can learn body safety skills (Wurtele, Gillispie et al., 1992; Wurtele, Kast et al., 1992). After participating in the BST, children have demonstrated increased ability to: (a) recognise potentially abusive situations, (b) resist potential lures, (c) report abusive situations, (d) blame the perpetrator, not the child, and (e) report positive feelings about their bodies and genitals (Wurtele & Owens, 1997). Programme effectiveness has been replicated with Latino preschoolers in Florida (US) (Kenny, Wurtele, & Alonso, 2012), and with Chinese preschoolers in Beijing, China (Zhang et al., in press).

References

  • Kenny, M. C., Wurtele, S. K., & Alonso, L. (2012). Evaluation of a personal safety program with Latino preschoolers. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21, 368-385.
  • Wurtele, S. K. (2008). Behavioral approaches to educating young children and their parents about child sexual abuse prevention. The Journal of Behavior Analysis of Offender and Victim Treatment and Prevention, 1(1), 52–64
  • Wurtele, S. K., Gillispie, E. I., Currier, L. L., & Franklin, C. F. (1992). A comparison of teachers vs. parents as instructors of a personal safety program for pre-schoolers. Child Abuse & Neglect, 16, 127-137
  • Wurtele, S. K., Kast, L. C., & Melzer, A. M. (1992). Sexual abuse prevention education for young children: A comparison of teachers and parents as instructors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 16, 865-876
  • Wurtele, S. K., & Owens, J. S. (1997). Teaching personal safety skills to young children: An investigation of age and gender across five studies. Child Abuse & Neglect, 21, 805-814.
  • Zhang, W., Chen, J., Feng, Y., Li, J., Liu, C., & Zhao, X. (in press). Evaluation of a sexual abuse prevention education for Chinese preschoolers. Research on Social Work Practice. doi: 10.1177/1049731513510409
  • Kenny, M. C., Wurtele, S. K., & Alonso, L. (2012). Evaluation of a personal safety program with Latino preschoolers. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21, 368-385.
  • Lee, Y. K. & Tang, C. S. (1998). Evaluation of a sexual abuse prevention program for female Chinese adolescents with mild mental retardation. American Journal on Mental Retardation, 103(2), 105-116.
  • Wurtele, S. K. (1990). Teaching personal safety skills to four-year-old children: A behavioral approach. Behavior Therapy, 21, 25-32.
  • Wurtele, S. K.., Kast, L. C., Miller-Perrin, C. L., & Kondrick, P.A. (1989). A comparison of programs for teaching personal safety skills to preschoolers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 57, 505-511.
  • Wurtele, S. K., Currier, L.L., Gillispie, E.I., & Franklin, C.F. (1991). The efficacy of a parent-implemented program for teaching preschoolers personal safety skills. Behavior Therapy, 22, 69-83.
  • Wurtele, S. K., Gillispie, E. I., Currier, L.L., & Franklin, C.F. (1992). A comparison of teachers vs. parents as instructors of a personal safety program for preschoolers. Child Abuse & Neglect, 16, 127-137.
  • Wurtele, S. K., Kast, LC., & Melzer, A.M. (1992). Sexual abuse prevention education for young children: A comparison of teachers and parents as instructors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 16, 865-876.
  • Sarno, J.A. & Wurtele, S.K. (1997). Effects of a personal safety program on preschoolers' knowledge, skills, and perceptions of child sexual abuse. Child Maltreatment, 2, 35-45.
  • Wurtele, S.K. & Owens, J.S. (1997). Teaching personal safety skills to young children: An investigation of age and gender across five studies. Child Abuse & Neglect, 21, 805-814.
  • Zhang, W., Chen, J., Feng, Y., Li, J., Liu, C., & Zhao, X. (2014). Evaluation of a sexual abuse prevention education for Chinese preschoolers. Research on Social Work Practice, 24(4), 428-436.

Contact details

Sandy K. Wurtele, Ph.D.
Phone: 001 (719) 255-4150
E-Mail: swurtele@uccs.edu
Fax: 001 (719) 255-4166
http://sandywurtele.com/books.html

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