BREAKING HEALTH NEWS – Published Study Demonstrates Monique Burr Foundation Curriculum Is An Effective Strategy To Prevent Child Victimization
Published Study Demonstrates Monique Burr Foundation For Children’s MBF Child Safety Matters® Curriculum Is An Effective Strategy To Prevent Child Victimization
MBF is working to combat increased child abuse cases during COVID-19 pandemic through evidence-based, proven curriculum.
APRIL 28, 2020 – A Panama City third-grader who attended MBF Child Safety Matters® lessons created by the Monique Burr Foundation for Children, reported sexual abuse by her neighbor leading to his conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Molestation. This is just one of many cases where students have learned how to recognize danger and all types of abuse and help protect themselves through the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum.
National stories in the news have credited the Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF) for its efficacy in helping to keep children safe from all types of abuse and exploitation. Despite hesitation by some field experts about educating children to prevent abuse, a recent study evaluating the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum provides evidence that the program is effective. A published study was released this month by the Journal of Interpersonal Violence evaluating the effectiveness of the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum for teaching child safety skills and knowledge to help prevent their victimization. The study included 1,176 students from 72 classrooms in 12 Florida schools across eight counties. The study concluded that children who received the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum (grades K-5) increased their knowledge for the safety information and retained the knowledge over a 7-month period. “This study is important because it uses a rigorous scientific design to examine if children are able to learn from victimization-prevention programming,” shared Dr. Melissa Bright, University of Florida, Departments of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, “It is critical to conduct research on any public health prevention effort approach to ensure that resources are allocated appropriately and that we are not spinning our wheels on something that doesn’t work.” Director of Crimes against Children Research Center and field expert, Dr. David Finkelhor believes this study increases faith in prevention education, “This study adds to our confidence that even younger children can learn important sexual abuse prevention concepts.”
The COVID-19 Pandemic has health care professionals concerned about the safety of children living in abusive situations or at the hands of care-takers who are abusive. “Educators are often the first to report child abuse and victimization,” shared Stacy Pendarvis, Vice President of Programs for MBF, “Because students aren’t at school which is often their safe place, teachers aren’t able to identify abuse and report it. During this pandemic, it is likely that child abuse rates will increase, but unfortunately we will also likely see reports decrease. We are thankful for the school districts across the country who have implemented MBF Child Safety Matters, and those who are currently implementing the lessons remotely, giving their students the tools they need to help protect themselves during this stressful time.” In addition to being better protected from abuse, students are also spending more unsupervised time online and are therefore exposed to more online exploitation. Students receiving the lessons will have the tools they need to recognize and prevent this as well.
As of July 29, 2019, 37 states have passed Erin’s Law, legislation named after child sexual assault survivor Erin Merryn, which requires public schools to implement a child sexual abuse prevention program. While Florida has not yet passed Erin’s Law, support from Governor Ron DeSantis’ office and the Department of Education, and funding from the Florida Attorney General’s office have made it possible for all Florida public schools to receive the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum at no cost. Currently, there are schools in all 67 districts across the state using MBF Child Safety Matters or MBF Teen Safety Matters, and several districts have mandated the use of MBF programs.
There are still hundreds of thousands of children across the state and even more across the country who have not received a prevention education curriculum to help protect themselves from abusers. MBF is working to reach every child across the country. “According to existing literature, eighty-percent of children will experience at least one type of victimization in their lifetime,” said Pendarvis, “there is now evidence that shows MBF Child Safety Matters works to better protect children and can help reduce that statistic. Every child deserves to receive these lessons.”
“Congratulations to the Monique Burr Foundation on the Journal of Interpersonal Violence’s positive review of the MBF Child Safety Matters curriculum. I appreciate the work they are doing to provide students with the tools and techniques to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation,” said Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.