The Unit for Social Welfare Research at the Norwegian Knowledge Centre in the Norwegian Institute of Public Health was commissioned by the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs to conduct a systematic literature search with subsequent categorization of relevant research. The commission was to identify systematic reviews about the effect of educational and informational interventions about violence and sexual abuse for children and youth.
In October 2016, a librarian carried out a literature search in 11 social and medical scientific databases. Two researchers screened all references and assessed whether they met the inclusion criteria. They included systematic- and non-systematic reviews about the effect of educational and informational interventions on violence and sexual abuse for children and youth.
We identified 4210 references. Among these, 18 studies met the inclusion criteria: three systematic reviews and 15 non-systematic reviews. The three systematic reviews included children and youth between 3 and 18 years. Most of them were from high income countries, in particular USA and Canada. All of the interventions were school-based.
The results were:
- All three systematic reviews found that school-based programs led to better results than standard or other types of services.
- The systematic reviews concluded that the programs led to:
- improved prevention-related knowledge on sexual abuse
- improved prevention-related skills on sexual abuse
- attitudes that were less accepting of violence in relationships
- and increased awareness of appropriate approaches to conflict resolution
- improvements in protective behaviours
- increased closure of previous or current sexual abuse
None of the reviews found any evidence of adverse effects (harm), such as increased anxiety or fear among children.