‘A kindergarten teacher must have 100 eyes and 100 ears!’: Kindergarten teachers' experiences coping with child sexual abuse and problematic sexual behavior

Laura I. Sigad*, Noah Bar Gosen, Limor Golan, Efrat Lusky-Weisrose, Jordan Shaibe, Dafna Tener, Tamara E. Moshon-Cohen, Daniel Roe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) and problematic sexual behavior (PSB) are worldwide phenomena that occur across all ages. Kindergarten teachers' proactive involvement can be crucial to the prevention, disclosure and intervention of CSA and PSB. However, research on their experiences of contending with CSA and PSB remains limited. Objective: This study examines kindergarten teachers' experiences in Israel with the CSA and PSB of their students. Participants and setting: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 31 teachers: 11 secular Jewish, seven religious Jewish, nine Druze Arab, and four Muslim Arab. Methods: A qualitative analysis was conducted using the interview transcripts as data. Results: The analysis revealed three themes illustrating teachers' professional transformations regarding their knowledge of these phenomena: 1) initial shock, uncertainty and sense of responsibility when exposed to CSA and PSB due to missing knowledge, 2) implementation of prevention and intervention strategies regarding CSA and PSB, and 3) embracing a social role to disseminate CSA and PSB knowledge. The findings indicated that the majority of the teachers went from overwhelming shock and fear due to a lack of knowledge in coping with CSA and PSB to a sense of responsibility as a community leader. Conclusions: The fragmentation of the Israeli education system isolates kindergartens, and the lack of training and education for the teachers left them alone when contending with the CSA and PSB of their students. Nevertheless, the participants exhibited remarkable agency and resourcefulness, gaining the necessary knowledge and acting as knowledge agents within their communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106713
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume151
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Coping
  • Kindergarten teachers
  • Problematic sexual behavior (PSB)

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