“Pay Attention! Pay Attention! Pay Attention!!!”: The Pivotal Role of Educators and the Educational System as Experienced by Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Laura I. Sigad*, Dafna Tener, Efrat Lusky-Weisrose, Jordan Shaibe, Carmit Katz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Educational institutions and educators are significant in children’s lives, and they have a crucial role in implementing policies, practices, and sexual education to enhance children’s safety. Such policies and practices should be based on the voices of CSA survivors. This study explored child sexual abuse (CSA) survivors’ viewpoints on their past experiences with educators and the educational system. A qualitative thematic approach was used to analyze 61 written testimonies collected in 2020–2021 by the Israeli Independent Public Inquiry on CSA. Two interrelated themes arose: (1) CSA survivors’ retrospective perspectives of educators and the educational system’s responses to signs of their CSA, described as ranging from abusive to life-saving. Specifically, they shared three types of responses: (a) harmful and hurtful; (b) dismissive and ignoring; and (c) accepting and attending. (2) The second theme described the survivors’ messages to educators to promote constructive change. The survivors conveyed expectations that educators should play a central role in CSA prevention, detection, and intervention and, specifically, the need for educators to receive professional training, provide beneficial sexual education, and identify and respond to CSA. The findings promoted moving beyond individual-level interventions to focus on improving educational institutional and organizational cultures related to CSA in both national and international contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number419
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.

Keywords

  • child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • child sexual abuse disclosure
  • educational system
  • educators
  • help seeking behaviors
  • testimonies

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