About the Healthy Relationships Project
The Healthy Relationships Project©, developed by Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, is a primary prevention intervention deployed within school systems to prevent child sexual abuse. The curricula consist of training for school staff, six weeks of classroom lessons delivered by either teachers or external trainers, and caregiver workshops. All programs are developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and focus on both victim and problematic sexual behavior prevention.
To date, the program has been implemented in 30 U.S. states, including statewide in Vermont. Since its implementation, substantiated cases in Vermont dropped 72% between 1992 and 2020, and the number of child perpetrators dropped 77% simultaneously.
Safe Shores’ Involvement in the Evaluation of The Healthy Relationships Project©
In October 2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention awarded a grant to fund a rigorous evaluation of the efficacy of the Healthy Relationships Project©. Safe Shores will lead the program implementation for this study. Over the course of two years, 16 DC Public Schools and Public Charter Schools in wards 4-8 across Washington, DC will take part in the program. The primary outcome will be examined at the school level, where reports to Safe Shores will be monitored for changes.
Impact of this Study
Data that Safe Shores receives on reports of suspected child abuse from all participating schools will be utilized in this evaluation study.
Primary outcomes to be evaluated will include:
- The number of child abuse investigations.
- The types of child abuse investigations.
- Forensic services, client advocacy, and/or case management services provided by Safe Shores to the participating schools.
Data for secondary outcomes will be collected and assessed for changes among caregivers and teachers in:
- Knowledge about child sexual abuse
- Grooming behaviors
- Parental monitoring
- Internet safety
- Parent-child communication about consent
- Self-efficacy for reporting and protection from child sexual abuse
The Healthy Relationships Project© sustainability will include ongoing support and partnership with all schools involved in the project.
The proposed research has enormous public health implications given the tremendous impact of child sexual abuse on social, emotional, and physical well-being. Evidence-based primary prevention interventions to eliminate child sexual abuse are needed; this study will serve to demonstrate the efficacy of the Health Relationships Project©, elevating it to evidence-based programming.