Preventing child sexual abuse (CSA) in ethnic minority communities: A literature review and suggestions for practice in Australia
Embargoed until: 2021-01-01
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A systematic literature review was conducted to address the immense national gap in knowledge on child sexual abuse (CSA) and ethnic minority communities in Australia, which necessarily borrowed from overseas. One theme explored within the review was that of prevention, and it was found that school-based programs are the most common type of prevention effort. The literature also calls for ‘culturally tailored’ programs to avoid homogenising victims' needs, however in Western multicultural countries like Australia there is a risk that such school-based programs heighten racism for ethnic minority children. Thus, program elements that are culturally sensitive could be incorporated into universal programs instead. Universal programs are also beneficial because they help reach many children regardless of their cultural background, help send the message that all children are equally valued and protected, help create unity and support among diverse victims, and can be further justified by three relatively stable cross-cultural findings: (i) that the prevalence of CSA is high worldwide, (ii) all children require protection irrespective of gender, and (iii) perpetrators are usually known to the victim. To help mobilise their role, service providers could co-deliver school-based programs especially to address institutional CSA within schools. They could also provide training to other health professionals to improve their identification of CSA and confidence to probe; a form of early intervention and therefore ‘secondary prevention’. Overall, this review argues that the importance of family reputation in collectivist cultures needs to be taken into account when designing and evaluating prevention programs so that delays in disclosure and help-seeking due to cultural pressure are not mistaken as evidence for their ineffectiveness. The findings are significant because they help progress the ‘prevention’ field in Australia where literature is essentially absent, particularly in the school and service system arenas.
Children and Youth Services Review
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