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School-Based Opportunities for the Collaborative Interruption of Child Sexual Victimization  

Author:  Caitlin Zahlis, A.S.W., PPS-C.

Source: Volume 22, Number 02, February/March 2021 , pp.17-23(7)

Sex Offender Law Report

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The school system exists as a primary youth gatekeeper and provides an ideal context to respond to the gaps the Centers for Disease Control have identified in current efforts to prevent child sexual victimization (CSV). Effective CSV “interruption” will require stakeholders to evaluate how school personnel, policies, and practices promote safety or perpetuate risk. Effective CSV prevention will require the standardization of school policies and practices that increase the visibility of victimization and interrupt the CSV grooming process. To accomplish this, school systems must enhance children’s personal and contextual resilience, while prioritizing school connection over disconnection when responding to student needs. The requirement of school attendance and the significant amount of time children spend in school provide meaningful CSV surveillance and data collection opportunities. Schools are resource hubs that are largely accessible in the community setting. They provide a neutral ground to gather caregivers and professionals across youth-serving sectors to collectively understand and interrupt patterns of CSV. This article will integrate practice experience and evidence from the literature to inform the understanding of CSV risk and protective factors in schools, and make practical suggestions to maximize school-based CSV interruption efforts.

Keywords: Sexual Victimization Among Youth; Bio-psycho-social Experiences Connected With CSV; School Behavioral Response Systems: Punitive vs. Restorative

Affiliations:  1: Mending Matters.

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