Child Sexual Abuse + Social Behavior Change

Categories: Education, General News, Other

Through a combination of research, education, and community advocacy, Darkness to Light uses a social behavior change approach to pioneer new training initiatives that bring child sexual abuse prevention to the attention of the broader cultural conversation.  

Social Behavior Change is a proven approach for enabling changes at individual, community, and societal levels to improve health and overall well-being. A Social Behavior Change (SBC) Approach informs Darkness to Light’s evidence-informed theory of change, The Prevention Paradigm for Child Sexual Abuse. More than just increasing adults’ awareness of child sexual abuse and the risks, an SBC intervention first identifies the specific audiences to target at various societal levels and then addresses the range of individual and social factors influencing their willingness and ability to take action to prevent child sexual abuse.  

Darkness to Light’s evidence-informed Theory of Change was developed over several months using internal staff and consulting partners. It guides all program development, advocacy initiatives, and training designs. By attending to the individual, institutional, and societal factors, Darkness to Light has successfully addressed systemic conditions to create prevention-oriented communities throughout the United States and abroad. When partnering with organizations or communities, Darkness to Light supports teams in the development of a comprehensive prevention plan which helps to establish a culture of child protection. Through the Theory of Change research, multilayered protective factors (individual, institutional, and societal) were identified and incorporated into our Social and Behavior Change process that is designed to create prevention-oriented communities. 

Individual Level Factors 

To ensure adults can adopt and maintain the desired behaviors, Darkness to Light’s programs address four key factors:      

    • Risk Perception – An individual’s perceived magnitude of severity and likelihood of susceptibility from a negative or harmful event.
    • Confidence (in themselves)- An individual’s evaluation of their competence and capability to perform a certain action.
    • Belief (in the system)- An attitude of acceptance that something is true or is the case.
    • Social Support - Aid and assistance exchanged through social relationships and interpersonal transactions.  

Institutional Level Factors  

While the specific actions vary for each group of adults, Darkness to Light believes there are three necessary conditions that all adults should create among institutions within their respective areas of influence:  

    • Engage in conversations about CSA prevention with other adults and children
    • Enact prevention policies where children live, learn, and play
    • Embed prevention practices where children live, learn, and play  

Societal Level Factors  

As outlined in the Theory of Change, when adults throughout society work to actively prevent child sexual abuse within their spheres of influence, that united effort addresses systemic conditions and establishes prevention-oriented communities. Overtime, this collective action will lead to:   

    • Increased resources for research, prevention community mobilization, policy implementation, and advocacy.
    • Reduced stigma around discussing the issue and toward those who report, take action to prevent child sexual abuse.
    • Increased faith in the system to work effectively for abuse prevention, and responsibly for reports of suspicion.
    • Increased accountability among adults who believe they are responsible for prevention and consistently take action to protect children.  

When measured long-term, these collective actions will lead to decreased incidence and prevalence of child sexual abuse. 

Across sectors and throughout multiple geographic locations, we work with organizations and communities to provide evidence-informed, culturally appropriate, comprehensive child safeguarding support. Using an SBC process, we tackle stigmas and social norms to address the systemic issues to achieve safeguarding success. Working alongside the community, our consultants integrate holistic solutions to create prevention-oriented communities. By leveraging cutting-edge research, award-winning training, and a consultative process, we are committed to helping our clients reach their desired outcomes.

To learn more about Darkness to Light’s consultation services, click here.

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