Circles of Safety

Confident, comfortable and ready to act, not words generally associated with the topic of child sexual abuse.

And yet, this is exactly what participants from universities across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) tell us upon completion of the Circles of Safety trainings. 

About Circles of Safety

Core to the Stop It Now! holistic approach to prevention is conversation--direct communication about sexual victimization of children and how to prevent or stop it. For 22 plus years, Now! has been talking with adults and assisting them to take action on behalf of a child whether through our Helpline services, our website or through training and technical assistance. 

Now! knows that adults need to be accountable for keeping children safe--adults are the ones who can make changes in environments to make them safer. Circles of Safety addresses the need for system-wide, proactive prevention, by calling on decision-makers to acknowledge the need for effective, practical tools to safe guard children whether on a college campus, in an after-school program or other setting where adults and children interact.

Our Training and Technical Assistance program disseminates lessons learned from twenty years of experience creating environments that keep children safe from sexual harm. Our goal is to build capacity and embed effective prevention policies, practices, and programming in organizations serving and impacting children and youth, thereby reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse.  

  • We provide training and advising services to professionals, organizations, coalitions, and community-based programs on strategies, policies and practices for preventing child sexual abuse.
  • As part of strategic partnerships, we consult long term with groups that are adapting key elements of our adult-responsibility, community-based program model.
  • Our webinars and online training offer support and strategies to professionals interested in putting prevention into action in their lives.

With our commitment to formative research and input and involvement of all adults impacted by child sexual abuse, we provide a broad, inclusive approach to child sexual abuse prevention initiatives.  Learn more about the evidence base for our work.

How Circles of Safety Works

Circles of Safety combines education with support, information with empowerment, action steps with confidence building in personalized training platforms to change the way individuals and groups understand their role in prevention. Through an interactive presentation that combines reflective and team building activities, with skill development and guided action planning, individuals are able to apply what they've learned both immediately and in long term, vision oriented preventative programming.

Circles of Safety is highly customizable and can serve as a foundation for ongoing prevention planning and activities in any environment. While our messaging and tools remain constant, we know that individuals and groups bring a variety of experiences and perspectives to the work of prevention. We aim to provide a training experience that is respectful of the needs and concerns of any community, professional or personal.

In Higher Education Circles
The Circles of Safety program prepares multi-disciplinary teams to have the know-how and the commitment to prevention that lead to policy and practice changes which imbed effective prevention into their settings. Our curriculum is designed to help adults increase their own confidence and comfort level in taking preventive action steps, while supporting and guiding teams and individuals in developing safety plans, codes of conduct, and institutional cultural changes. This program includes a pre-training orientation and preparation for organizing the team, a two-day training session customized to the setting and a follow-up consultation. To find out more, see our Circles of Safety in Higher Education brochure.

Effectiveness In Higher Education
With the stated goal of bystander mobilization, Stop It Now! and Prevention Innovations Research Center of the University of New Hampshire joined in a collaboration to customize and evaluate Now!’s Circles of Safety curriculum for utilization with higher education community members. Preliminary evaluation results, provided by the researchers, show statistically significant positive outcomes reported by training participants on a number of knowledge and attitude changes.

These include:

  • Statistical knowledge relating to victims of child sexual abuse (CSA)
  • Knowledge about who can be a perpetrator of CSA
  • Feelings of certainty and comfort level in abilities to prevent or intervene in situations where a child is at risk for sexual abuse on campus
  • Overall levels of confidence, comfort, and knowledge about recognizing the warning signs of adults’ behavior that could indicate that an adult may have sexual interest in children or has inappropriate boundaries with children
  • Reporting of the intent (likelihood) to engage in behaviors to prevent and intervene in situations of CSA on campus
  • Agreement with statements choosing to say to or do something about someone acting inappropriately around a child or children

Click here for a summary of the evaluation results.