Parents Protect! Programme
A public education programme focussing on positive preventative action adults can take to protect children from sexual abuse. Includes workshops for parents/carers and an online website hosting a 30 minute learning programme and downloadable leaflets and postcards.
Type of intervention
Public education, online, classroom setting
Target groups, level of prevention and subgroups
- Communities and Families | Primary prevention | Adults (21+ years) | Male and female | Public education, online, classroom setting | English
The intended audience is protective adults, such as parents and carers. The term ‘parents’ is used throughout this description, but also refers to grandparents, carers and other guardians.
Child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, UK.
Mode and context of delivery
The Parents Protect! programme is a multi-faceted public education campaign. It is made up of several elements:
- 90 minute public education seminars delivered to groups of adults through children’s centres, women’s groups, churches and other community based organisations
- A website which holds written information and downloadable resources such as leaflets and posters and a 30 minute learning programme in video form
- A leaflet giving general advice to parents of young children and to signpost parents to the website
- Two SMART cards (advice cards) for parents on how to talk to each other about protecting children from harm and tips for talking to children about staying safe
- A leaflet for parents of older children and young people with a focus on child sexual exploitation situations and signposting to the website
Level/nature of staff expertise required
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, whereby staff have a variety of roles and backgrounds, delivers the Parents Protect! seminars. These include those with presentation and training skills coupled with background experience in child protection. Sessional workers are also used who have similar skill sets. Ideally, trainers should be experienced in talking to large groups of people and be competent to answer questions by attendees relating to issues of child sexual abuse and sexual offenders.
Information materials have been compiled by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation staff (practitioners and others) with assistance from a communications professional and a graphic designer.
Intensity/extent of engagement with target group(s)
The public education seminars constitute a 'one-off' presentation which lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. At the end of the session the facilitator makes him or herself available for questions outside of the group setting. The facilitator hands out leaflets and SMART cards to attendees.
The website is available to all internet users. It contains a learning programme which lasts for 30 minutes.
Description of intervention
The aim of the seminars is to develop the audiences understanding about the prevention of children sexual abuse and to empower parents to protect children from sexual abuse. It is desirable and encouraged by facilitators that those attending engage in the group discussions.
The intended learning outcomes are to:
- Identify the key aspects of child sexual abuse
- Develop awareness of types of abusers
- Explain the available systems for concerns about abuse
- Identify the legal definition of a Registered Sexual Offender
- Explain the key principles of the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) (how sex offenders are managed within the community)
Parents Protect! evolved from two pilot public education projects called 'SMART ENOUGH' and 'EDUCATE TO PROTECT'. These were evaluated and the report can be obtained from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation. The parent’s sessions use pre and post workshop evaluation forms to give a clear measure of the impact of learning and changes in confidence. This evaluation found:
- Spotting signs that a child may have been or is being abused = over 125 parents moved from a self-rated confidence level of 1 – 2, to a rating of 3 – 5.
- Signs that an adult may currently be or be thinking about abusing a child = 291 self-rated their level of confidence at just 1 – 2 and only 49 self-rated at 4 – 5 pre session. Only 35 remained in the 1 - 2 rating group post session, and the 4 – 5 cohort had increased to 286.
- Their ability to keep their children safe = there was almost a 100% increase in the number of parents rating their confidence at 4 – 5 post session (rising from 173 to 322).
- Their ability to take action if they thought something was wrong = whilst pre-session levels of confidence were generally good, we saw a significant shift towards ratings of 4 – 5 post session with 390 parents in this ratings cohort.
Google Analytics is used to monitor activity on the Parents Protect! website. At the time of writing, it receives around 35,000 unique visits a month. A feedback form is utilised on the Parents Protect! websites which users are given the option to complete after 5 minutes. Recent analysis shows that 73% of people said they found the site very useful or useful with 81% saying they found all or some of the information they were looking for.
Keeping the Public in Public Protection – A report on two pilot community education campaigns for the prevention of child sexual abuse, available here