How can we prevent child sexual abuse? One program that has been explored is the “just say no” campaign, which teaches young children how to say no to inappropriate sexual advances by adults. This program has received much attention. How effective is such a strategy? Even if we can teach children to say no to strangers, can we also teach them to say no to their fathers or sexually abusive relatives? Could there be any negative effects of educating children about sexual abuse? These are a few questions that future research will need to address.

Increasing the availability of sex education has also been cited as a way to decrease the incidence of child sexual abuse. Children from traditional, authoritarian families that have no sex education are at higher risk for sexual abuse. Education about sexual abuse— teaching that it does not happen to all children—may help children to understand that it is wrong. Telling children where to go and whom to talk to is also important.

Another important factor in prevention is adequate funding and staffing of child welfare agencies. Social workers may be among the first to become aware of potentially dangerous situations. Physicians and educators must also be adequately trained to iden­tify the signs of abuse.

intimate partner violence

A pattern of coercive behavior designed to ex­ert power and control over a person in an inti­mate relationship through the use of intimida­tion, threats, or harmful or harassing behavior.