Promoting sexual health literacy in children and strengthening child resilience and empowerment: Development, implementation and evaluation of a school-based sexual abuse prevention programme in the primary school setting (IGEL)
This IGEL project was a collaborative team science effort involving professionals from research and practice that followed the public health action cycle model for interventions and policy development. The scientific research progress was led by educationalists, psychologists, sociologists, and socialisation researchers from the Faculty of Educational Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen who teamed up with public health researchers from the Bielefeld University. The IGEL project was conducted between 01.09.2012 – 31.10.2015 and was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Target population and interventional approach
The intervention is based on an asset-based and eco-systematic approach that aims at primary school children attending the 3rd grade and their social environment comprising parents, teachers and professional school staff.
The IGEL intervention aims at promoting a culture of awareness in context of sexual health and sexual violence including assault, abuse, and rape. While the target population comprises both teachers and children, in children the application of the programme will enhance self-protection skills by teaching them practical and theoretical knowledge and action competencies in context of sexual health and violence. During the programme children will be equipped with capabilities to recognise dangerous situations and take action to better protect themselves. The components aiming at teachers will help to raise awareness for sexual violence against children and enable them to better understand and recognise cases. They will be equipped with reflexive and reactive abilities in order to better deal with sexual assault against children. Overall, the programme will support better protection against all kinds of sexual violence against children and improve empowerment in the participants to raise their voices and to actively seek for help. On the long term basis the programme aims at changing school infrastructure towards better networking strategies and prevention concepts as well as improving cooperation with professional health support and first aid systems in case of sexual violence against children.
- Raising awareness about sexual abuse and sexual health in professionals and children
- Strengthening empowerment and responsibility among participants
- Improving theoretical and practical knowledge on sexual health and health promotion
- Improving action competencies
- Improving self-protection skills
- Improving knowledge about support and first aid services, and preventive measures
- Practicing of defence strategies
- Enhancing better sexual health related behaviour (behavior-based preventive component)
- Participative approach to actively involve and engage children’s social environment (environmental preventive component)
- Changing school infrastructure and implementation of cooperation with professionals health service for victims of sexual violence
Implementation of the IGEL programme
- Five hours training programme for teachers
- A series of six classes (each 45 minutes) plus one reviving class (45 minutes)
- Classes can be run in a row or distributed over weeks/months
IGEL comprises seven sequenced classes each focusing a specific topic. The programme is easy to use during school hours while one class perfectly fits into a 45 minutes session and is also easily adaptable in case more or less time is needed during the implementation.
The IGEL classes
- Introduction to the programme
- Working on a definition
- My body
- Physical contacts
- Identifying and understanding of “Okay!” and “Hey, stop!” (no-go)-situations
- Becoming an IGEL professional
Programme didactics and implementation methods
- Music and art based methods: IGEL Rap (dancing and singing)
- Case vignettes
- Individual, partner, and group work
- Practice work: Identification and naming, working with materials, drawings
- Contemplation and theme cards
- Parent letters
- IGEL-professional certificate
- Providing basic information for teachers for self-reliant learning, working, and reviving
- Checklist in case of emergency for suspicion for or crises related to sexual violence
- Support for developing blueprints and templates for parental work and engagement
- Additional information on further types of child abuse and neglect
The research progress within the IGEL project was divided into two researcher stages that built up on each other
- concept development and preparation of the evaluation
- implementation, evaluation and concept adaptation
The intervention which is designed as a primary prevention programme consists of two modules:
- preventative measures for teachers and parents
- preventative measures for pupils
The implementation took place in eight primary schools while in each two 3rd grade classes were involved at a time (n=16 classes). For assessing effectiveness of the IGEL intervention four control groups were recruited.
The evaluation study conducted by Bielefeld University has proven the high effectiveness of the IGEL programme. Further, the study shows that the programme is user friendly and easy to use. See: Link here.
- Ina Kreuz, School Teacher for primary and secondary classes, she was involved within the development of the life skills intervention “Lions Quest: Erwachsen handeln”, a programme that is based on the principles of proportionate universalism.
- Ullrich Bauer, Professor of Socialisation Research, Head of the Centre for Prevention and Intervention in Childhood and Adolescence (CPI) at Bielefeld University, he is training teachers for ten years
- Wilhelm Körner holds a doctors degree in psychology and specialised in psychological psychotherapy for children and adolescents, he has vast experience in educational counselling and school psychology