Audit of school-based policy and curriculum for child sexual abuse prevention

In developed countries such as Australia, primary schools are a universal service, providing access to learning for virtually all children. The most recent annual The State of the World’s Children report (UNICEF, 2014) shows that the primary school enrolment ratio for Australian children, averaged from 2008 to 2011, was 97 per cent for boys and 98 per cent for girls. Schools are, therefore, viewed as key agencies for addressing a range of social issues impacting children’s learning and development (World Health Organization, 1998). Child sexual abuse prevention is one such issue. School systems and school staff members are essential components in the network of professionals involved in the prevention of child sexual abuse, and in child protection.

The most widely used strategy for child sexual abuse prevention is the provision of school-based primary prevention programs, which focus on preventing abuse by addressing malleable factors such as social norms, situational/contextual risks, and individual knowledge and skills. School-based prevention initiatives have capacity to ‘reach large numbers of diverse children in a relatively cost- efficient fashion’ and to ‘eliminate the stigma of identifying specific children or families as being at risk for sexual abuse’ (Wurtele & Kenny, 2010, p. 108).

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse provides a unique and important context in which to take stock of the scope and nature of system-level school-based child sexual abuse prevention education in Australian school systems. This audit takes a forensic approach to auditing the content of 32 school systems and provides a comprehensive attempt to describe the ‘state of the nation’ in this particular domain of child sexual abuse prevention.


Walsh, Kerryann M., Brandon, Leisa, & Kruck, Lisa-Anne James (2017) Audit of primary school-based sexual abuse prevention policy and curriculum: Volumes 1 to 5: Report prepared for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Commonwealth of Australia, Sydney, NSW.


Funding / Grants

  • Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse