Program Goals/Target Population
Stewards of Children is an adult-focused prevention training program that centers on improving the awareness of the prevalence, consequences, and circumstances of child sexual abuse (CSA). The training aims to educate adults (primarily child care professionals) to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to CSA. Stewards of Children was developed by Darkness to Light (D2L), a national non-profit organization that seeks to protect children from sexual abuse.
One of the main goals of Stewards of Children is primary prevention by teaching child care professionals specific strategies to prevent CSA from occurring the first time (for example, placing limits on or carefully structuring and monitoring one-on-one adult and child contact). Another goal of the training program is secondary prevention which involves teaching adults to identify when abuse is occurring and to respond to children appropriately, in order to keep them safe from future abuse and prevent potential subsequent abuse-related problems.
The program consists of an in-person training format that involves a trained facilitator who presents the curriculum and leads discussions. During the 2-hour training, each participant receives a workbook that contains the full program curriculum. The trained facilitator uses a video, which integrates segments of CSA survivors relating their stories of abuse and recovery, with segments from professionals who have experience and knowledge about the problems related to the occurrence of CSA. The facilitator stops the video at three points and leads discussion about the concepts presented in the different segments.
The program is also available in a web-based format. The web-based version incorporates the workbook and video from the in-person training into an instructional technology system that allows individuals to learn about the concepts from the curriculum in a self-paced format. Content is delivered by text, audio, video, and animation. There are short audio/visual training segments that are supported by the text, as well as video clips of adult survivors describing their CSA experiences. Individuals respond to true-to-life scenarios in order to focus the training on their particular needs or concerns. The responses trigger alterations in the scenario options in order to create a personalized learning experience.
The program builds on “The 5 Steps to Protecting Our Children,” an education tool for CSA prevention also developed by D2L. The program not only trains adults on child protection but also assists organizations in creating individual and organizational policies and procedures in attempts to keep children safe.
18 to 64
Rheingold and colleagues (2011) found significant differences between the waitlist control group and the Stewards of Children training groups (in-person and web-based training combined) with regards to measures of child sexual abuse (CSA) knowledge. At the 3-month follow-up, participants who received the Stewards of Children training had significantly higher knowledge scores compared with the control group.
There were no significant differences between the Stewards of Children training groups and the waitlist control group on CSA attitudes, measured by the CSA Myth Scale.
CSA Prevention Behaviors
There were significant differences between the waitlist control group and the Stewards of Children training groups with regards to self-reported prevention behaviors. While both the training groups and the waitlist control group reported significant increases in preventative behaviors at the 3-month follow-up, the training groups showed a greater increase in behaviors.