What Messages Are Communicated to Children in Maltreatment Prevention Programs? Conclusions of a Scoping Review

Noa Cohen, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


There is a worldwide consensus that the prevention of child maltreatment (CM) is critical in promoting children’s safety. Furthermore, a significant part of the prevention efforts targets the children themselves. This scoping review aimed to map the characteristics of CM prevention programs that targeted children by examining studies that described the relevant implemented programs, published in peer-reviewed journals over the last decade. Thirty-one relevant manuscripts were identified from the online databases. The analysis, guided by scoping review guidelines, examined these programs in terms of content, context of delivery, and practitioners involved. A thematic analysis identified the key messages conveyed to the children. The findings showed that the vast majority of programs are school-based and focused on preventing child sexual abuse (CSA) with considerably less attention given to other forms of maltreatment. In addition, most programs did not promote active parental participation. The content descriptions of the CSA prevention programs revealed several common key messages that focused on children’s individual safety skills, specifically recognition, refusal strategies, and disclosure. The discussion addresses the concepts of blame and guilt as crucial to rethinking the CM prevention messages conveyed to children. Key conclusions that were drawn from the current scoping review highlight the need to better align prevention efforts and recent CM research. Additionally, ceiling effects in several studies indicated that children’s participation, as information sources and partners in program development, should be promoted, so that prevention efforts will meet their needs within their various relevant life contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • child maltreatment (CM) prevention
  • child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • children
  • disclosure
  • refusal strategies


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