Julia Rudolph is a post-doctoral researcher in the School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University. She is interested in parenting and child wellbeing, specifically regarding sexual abuse prevention
Parents as Protectors: A Qualitative Study of Parents’ Views on Child Sexual Abuse Prevention (Oral Paper Presentation)
Although parents are essential to child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention efforts, their views on prevention and protection are not always represented in the research literature. In this qualitative study of 24 Australian parents, beliefs about CSA, its risk factors, prevention methods and parents’ role in CSA protection, and parents’ approaches to protection of their own children, are examined. Findings were condensed into five themes: (a) parents’ understanding of child sexual abuse, grooming and risk; (b) parent-led CSA education; (c) parents’ beliefs about CSA education; (d) children recognizing and resisting CSA; and (e) parent responsibility for protection. Findings suggest that parents have a good knowledge of CSA and its risks. However, they do not provide their children with the comprehensive prevention messages recommended by prevention campaigns and many concentrate on abduction dangers. This gap between knowledge and parental communication with children could be due to parents’ beliefs that there may be harms associated with education of children about CSA (e.g. such as inciting new fears and worries or reducing trust in others) and that the method may not be effective in protecting children from CSA. This study adds to the existing literature by presenting information that could be useful in designing programs to include parents in CSA protection and by approaching CSA research with parents as the key agents in the protection of children.