Written by Zuzana Urbanek, Program Manager, Curriculum
The Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe (CH SUBS) child abuse prevention curriculum has achieved an important milestone – being reviewed and listed as evidence-based by the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse (CEBC). This will help the program to expand its reach, as many states, school districts, funding programs, and other decision makers seek evidence-based programs. What is most critical about growing the reach of the program is getting its important awareness- and skill-building lessons to more kids to help keep them safe!
What Does It Mean to Be Evidence-Based?
A program being rated and listed as evidence-based means it has been rigorously tested in controlled settings, proven effective, and translated into practical use that is widely applicable, and that all of this has been reviewed by an independent expert resource. Clearinghouse listings of evidence-based programs are invaluable to decision-makers. Such program lists allow end-users to search for programs that have been evaluated as being effective by experts in the field – not just the people who developed and tested the program. Ultimately, when people implement an evidence-based program, they can be confident about delivering something that works.
Some programs claim to be “evidence-based” because they have gathered empirical evidence and perhaps even published. However, without the final step of outside expert review and listing, the claim is not substantiated – so, always look for which independent organization reviewed and listed the program as being evidence-based. That’s typically a national clearinghouse, like CEBC.
This Milestone Is Especially Important Now
The pandemic has been a time of increased stress for many people, but isolated kids possibly facing abuse at home have faced danger and pain that most of us can barely imagine. Returning to in-person schooling is a hopeful change, as educators are among the most likely professionals to recognize and report possible child abuse. During the pandemic, some schools who used the Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe program were not able to renew, as they were focused on the demands of new or increased technology, health protocols, and more. But we’re delighted that renewals are coming in again, and also hope to reach new schools and organizations. The CH SUBS lessons are critical to teach kids how to recognize and resist various kinds of child abuse and how to build healthy relationships with safe adults who they can talk to whenever they feel unsafe. The lessons teach not only safety rules and principles but also impress upon kids that they are special, no one should ever hurt them, abuse is NEVER their fault, and no matter what an abuser might say, it is always best to tell. And if kids don’t have a safe adult around, they always can call/text/chat the Childhelp National Hotline.
The Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe program is built on research and best practices in child psychology, learning theory, and prevention education, and its current version has been proven effective in the classroom for nearly a decade, most recently with randomized control trial research at all grade levels. Having confirmation of the efficacy of the program will help place CH SUBS at the forefront for those specifically seeking evidence-based programs (EBPs). For example, the use of EBPs is recommended and sometimes required by funding sources. Childhelp also has spoken with many legislators who have interest in furthering the cause of child abuse prevention education, and we’ll now have better footing to work with representatives across the nation to promote access and funding to child abuse prevention education. CH SUBS always has been an innovative program and unique as the only comprehensive PK-12, fully-scripted, child-facing program about various types of child abuse, including in-depth training for facilitators. Now it has added “evidence-based” to those credentials.
Meeting Prevention Needs
The need is real to address keeping our kids safe as so many risk factors grow in society – from predators abusing technology to prey on youth, to bullies and cyberbullies, to those who would exploit children through human trafficking. Experts and policymakers alike are considering the growing evidence that primary prevention works as one of the keys to preventing and stopping child abuse.
A recently released policy brief from the National Council on Family Relations (ncfr.org), titled Transforming Child Welfare: Prioritizing Prevention, Racial Equity, and Advancing Child and Family Well-Being, listed two of its six recommendations for policymakers as being “primary prevention” and “evidence-based interventions.” With its evidence-based status confirmed, Childhelp Speak Up Be Safe is poised to answer the call to help proactively create safer communities.