Effectiveness and Evaluation

Stop It Now! is committed to providing a training experience that is effective and demonstrates positive results. Whenever funding allows, Circles of Safety is presented with pre- and post- training participant surveys, using a range of closed and open-ended response questions, and designed to measure changes in the knowledge and awareness of child sexual abuse issues, prevention skills, change in attitudes about sexual abuse, as well as recognition of challenges in carrying out sexual abuse prevention and response activities.

As the evaluations shared below indicate, Circles of Safety shows promising and positive results in youth-serving organizations and higher education campuses. Participants overwhelmingly demonstrate increased knowledge, confidence, and intentions to expand personal safety planning practices.

Until Stop It Now! is able to fund and conduct at least two training studies that include a randomized controlled trial, Circles of Safety is considered a training program that is a promising practice in the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (CEBC)

1. Evaluation of Stop It Now!'s Circles of Safety for Foster Care Programs

Through a grant awarded from Raliance, a collaborative initiative to end sexual violence in one generation, made possible through a commitment from the National Football League (NFL), Stop It Now! offered Circles of Safety for Foster Care Programs - a sexual abuse safety prevention training series tailored for foster care programs and foster parents - to four different foster care programs in Massachusetts and Connecticut. This evalution report, based on the findings from a series of focus groups and pre and post training surveys, measures the program effects and gathers program participant perceptions about the Circles of Safety for Foster Care program.

Through this project, evaluation results showed that:
On average, Circles of Safety: Awareness to Action program participants who participated in a full-day training for recognizing and responding to sexual abuse reported:

  • Increased awareness of sexual abuse and positive changes to their behaviors and confidence to handle sexual abuse
  • Increased knowledge about healthy sexuality for different ages
  • Increased knowledge about the importance of safety planning 

100% of Leadership participants, who participated in a full-day training to create community planning steps to enhance their organization’s safety planning, and Training of Trainers program participants, who were prepared to teach workshops, reported:

  • Increased awareness of how policies and procedures can be used to increase safety for children in the foster care program
  • Provided opportunities to initiate action
  • Reported positive satisfaction with the training

To download the full report, click here.

2. Evaluation of Stop It Now!'s Circles of Safety for Youth and Family Service Programs

This report was funded by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of people in Western Massachusetts. Circles of Safety was administered to three departments in one community multi-service organization in Western Massachusetts in the spring of 2018. To measure program impact, pre and post staff surveys were designed to measure changes to the knowledge and awareness of CSA issues, prevention skills, perceived changes to CSA prevention, changes in attitudes, as well as gather participant perceptions of the training program. A needs assessment, including staff surveys and focus groups, was completed at the start of the project.

Training participants reported:

  • Increased knowledge about healthy sexuality 
  • Increased knowledge about the importance of safety planning
  • Increased knowledge about behaviors that constitute contact sexual abuse

100% of Supervisors trained reported that as a result of participation, awareness of best practices was increased and 93% increased their confidence to support staff and famlies in their programs on sexual abuse prvention best practices. 

To download the executive summary, click here

3. Evaluation of Stop It Now!'s Circles of Safety for Higher Education

Through the generosity and vision of Sue Paterno and the Paterno family, Stop It Now! was able to customize and implement the Circles of Safety training program for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) and member universities. An evaluation of the two-year pilot program was conducted by the Prevention Innovations Research Center based on the findings from a series of pre and post training surveys.

Administrators, faculty, staff and students participating in the program:

  1. Develop a prevention focused action plan based on identifying risks for harm, opportunities for prevention and resources to implement the plan
  2. Have the confidence and comfort to take action by practicing prevention skills and learning how to define behaviors along a continuum from appropriate to inappropriate to harmful to illegal.
  3. Learn critical strategies to deploy in each of these four areas:
    • Screening and selecting employees and volunteers
    • Guidelines on interactions between individuals
    • Monitoring behavior
    • Responding to inappropriate behavior and breaches in policy
  4. Understand how policies and practices can be used to help prevent children from being sexually abused and commit to shared responsibility to take action before a child is harmed

Prevention Innovations Research Center evaluated the Circles of Safety for Higher Education program. Two key results point to the efficacy of this bystander-focused curriculum:

  1. Higher overall confidence, comfort and knowledge about recognizing the warning signs of adults’ behavior that may point to sexual interest in children or inappropriate boundaries with children.
  2. Greater certainty of and comfort in their abilities to take actions to prevent or intervene in situations of child sexual abuse on campus.

For additional information on evaluation results, Prevention Innovations Research Center's evaluation summary, click here.

Additionally, refer to the published article, "Circles of Safety for Higher Education: Creating the Foundation for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse." Journal of Campus Title IX Compliance and Best Practices, 2016, Volume 2. Authors: Deborah Donovan Rice, Program Director, Circles of Safety for Higher Education, Victoria Sanders, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor/Chief EEEO Compliance Officer & State System Title IX Coordinator, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Jane G. Stapleton, Co-Director, Prevention Innovations Research Center, Valerie Mercado, Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Jennifer Coleman, Director, Stop It Now! 

Abstract: Stop It Now! and the Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education collaborated for a 23-month pilot program to customize the Circles of Safety curriculum for the higher education setting. The program relied on a tiered approach that involved system leadership, 14 individual campus leadership teams, faculty, students, and summer camp directors, as well as representatives from residence life, athletics, student affairs, counseling offices, legal counsel, human resources, communication, health clinics, Greek life, women’s centers, and internship placement. The program’s aim is to empower adults to take responsibility for creating safe conditions on college and university campuses through preventive action. Third-party evaluation has shown its effectiveness in increasing knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Through the Circles of Safety for Higher Education program, Stop It Now! assisted universities in building their capacity to create a culture of prevention on their campuses.

Full article: click here