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Program Research

Child abuse prevention programs have primarily focused on teaching children about various types of abuse and the self-protection skills to use in situations where they feel threatened or are at risk. Typically, these programs have involved knowledge building components, child empowerment, and self-protection. Knowledge building includes teaching children general concepts such as the names of body parts and the types of abuse. Child empowerment-based programs focus on resistance skill building including the child's ability to say 'no', the right to safety, and encouraging children to disclose abusive incidents. Self-protection models emphasize knowledge building, parent involvement, and the incorporation of behavioral strategies and concepts into the school curriculum and environment following program delivery. Some prevention programs have been criticized for placing too much focus on girls as the victims of child abuse and for neglecting gender differences such as the differences in disclosure patterns of male and female children or silencing due to male socialization and not understanding what abuse is. Additional criticisms target programs that place too much of the burden for prevention on the child, as well as those that emphasize concepts that create fear or embarrassment. The Speak Up Be Safe program is designed to shift the focus of responsibility from the child to the adult and use evidence-based methods and up to date research and relevant content in all curricula and supporting information.

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