Home / Appendices / APPENDIX A: A History of This Manual

Home / Appendices / APPENDIX A: A History of This Manual

APPENDIX A: A History of This Manual

The original version of this Manual was published by the Children’s Trust in 1998 under the title “Designing and Implementing a School Reporting Protocol: A How-To Manual for Massachusetts Educators”. Upon completion, as with all subsequent editions, the Manual was posted on the Trust’s website, distributed electronically, and printed and distributed in hardcopy to schools across the Commonwealth free of charge.

The Manual was updated and reissued in 2012 as a second edition under the same title, and a third edition followed in 2016. However, in addition to its updates on reporting requirements, abuse statistics, and current research, the third edition of the Manual purposefully integrated an additional emphasis on child sexual abuse prevention – including evidence-based guidance, practices, and resources.

To reflect this new emphasis and expanded focus, the title of the 2016 Protocol was changed to “Steps Toward Child Abuse Prevention & Creating Safe School Environments: A How-To Manual for Massachusetts Educators.”

The impetus for the integration of more prevention-oriented content into the Manual was derived from the responsibilities of the Children’s Trust as co-chair (with the Office of the Child Advocate) of a (then) new Legislative Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse 182 . The Task Force (established by the MA Legislature in 2014) convened in 2015 for the purpose of developing guidelines and tools for the development of child sexual abuse prevention and intervention plans for Massachusetts child- and youth-serving organizations (YSOs). The Task Force Report 183 was published in June 2017 and represented a significant step forward in terms of providing evidence-based guidance, tools, model policies, checklists, toolkits, and resources focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse.

The publication of the Report was immediately followed by a series of regional public consultations in 2017 and 2018 (called Community Forums) with schools and other YSOs across the Commonwealth to introduce the community to the work of the Task Force and the existence of the report; to discuss the current state of primary prevention practice in the regions; and to gauge the kinds of supports, tools, and technical assistance needed by the YSO community to assist their organizational efforts in the primary prevention of child sexual abuse. These consultations provided a wealth of information about child sexual abuse prevention policies, procedures, practices, protocols, and needs in the state’s YSOs. Among the strongest need expressed was a desire for easier accessibility to the primary prevention guidance and resources in the Report.

Consequently, the Task Force and the Trust turned their attention to the development and refinement of a free, publicly available website designed to host the Report in an online, user-friendly, interactive, and searchable format. This was accomplished in late 2020 with the launch of “Safe Kids Thrive”. 184 With the continuing support of DESE, EEC, the MA Afterschool Partnership, the Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs, DPH, and others, subsequent forums/training series focused in 2021 on introducing the Safe Kids Thrive website to YSOs that were either opening as the COVID-19 pandemic quarantines were being lifted or anticipating opening during the summer and early fall. These trainings included the participation of, and feedback from K-12 principals and district administrators, early education programs, after-school programs, community learning center initiatives, residential education programs, day care centers, day and overnight summer camps, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others.

During this same period, there were also significant developments in the evolving area of the identification, intervention, and treatment of children and youth who exhibit Problematic Sexual Behavior (PSB). PSBs occur when a child’s sexual behaviors go beyond what is typical for their age and development and may pose a risk to the safety and well-being of themselves or others. Since July 2020, the Children’s Trust and Task Force have funded a PSB Learning Collaborative administered by the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance (MACA) to increase clinical training, services, and awareness of PSBs across the state through their network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, and an environmental scan being conducted by MASOC to collect information about what services are offered to children and adolescents with PSB in Massachusetts as well as any opportunities to improve the services and resources for these children and their families.

Finally, in 2018, the Children’s Trust and the Task Force participated as a panelist on the DESE/DOE effort to update the 1999 Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework for Massachusetts public schools. The panel – comprised of school superintendents, district managers, principals, school nurses, guidance counselors, teachers, parents, and others from schools in every region of the state – worked from November 2018 to April 2019 to accomplish this task. As a panelist, the Trust and Task Force ensured the integration of learning standards and objectives related to personal safety, healthy relationships, and child sexual abuse prevention for students in Pre-K to Grade 12 into the draft document. The interaction with other panelists provided additional insight into the perspectives of school leadership and front-line staff and their desire to have a positive impact on their students’ health and well-being.

In summary of the above, a lot has happened since the 2016 Manual was published. These separate, but interrelated projects, experiences, and developments provide a body of resources and content that did not exist during any previous update. Certainly, the impact of the pandemic years has been felt in the provision of services and will continue to influence and perhaps change policies in the future. (It may be too soon to tell how these changes will play out).

This fourth edition, therefore, seeks to capitalize on this body of work, and to expand its prevention focus further by linking to the resources and content (particularly on the SKT website) to the fullest extent possible without significantly expanding the size of the Manual. Our goal is to continue to define the resources, knowledge, tools, and actions available to educators for the primary prevention of child sexual abuse, and to support the critical task of building and sustaining a strong, effective and safe school environment

182 https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2014/Chapter431

183 https://childrenstrustma.org/uploads/files/PDFs/Child_Sexual_Abuse_Prevention_Task_Force_Report.pdf

184 https://safekidsthrive.org/


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