The CAP (Child Assault Prevention) Program is one of the most acknowledged and one of the best world programs in primary prevention of child abuse. It is considered one of the world’s most comprehensive and most innovative prevention programs.
The CAP seeks to integrate the best resources of a community in an effort to reduce a child’s or a young person’s vulnerability to verbal, physical and sexual assault.
CAP curriculum has several variants aimed at different age groups and suited to the needs of children and the young:
- Preschool CAP (3 to 5 years)
- Kindergarten CAP (5 to 6 years)
- Elementary CAP (1st to 6th grades)
- Teen CAP (Middle and Secondary grades)
- Special Needs CAP (for children with developmental disabilities)
CAP utilizes a three-pronged approach to prevention education:
- Teacher/Staff In-service: training for all school staff
- Parent workshops
- Student workshops, followed by individual counselling with those who want it.
The CAP curriculum is conducted by the CAP facilitators. They are mainly professional assistants, teacher’s tutors and university students from social and humanistic academic programs.
This high quality preventive program is based on several principles:
- Access to prevention of violence to and amongst the children is based on the philosophy of strengthening of and ensuring that all people, and children consequently, have the right to information, skills and strategies by which they gain control over their life.
- As a starting point for understanding violence and abuse the Program uses fundamental human rights, defining them as violation of our right to be safe, strong and free.
- A comprehensive approach to prevention: school staff, parents and children.
- Developmentally appropriate contents, tested through research and practice.
- Introducing children to the system of community support.
- Introduces children to useful and applicable skills which strengthen their self-confidence in problem solving even in critical situations.
CAP motto is: All Children Deserve to be Safe, Strong and Free.
The mission is to improve the quality of life for children by reducing the level of interpersonal violence against them through the use of primary prevention education and specifically the use of the CAP program.
CAP in Croatia
In the year 1999 the Parents Association Step by Step (further: PA Step by Step) established the cooperation with the International Center for Assault Prevention - ICAP. With the approval of the Croatian Institute for Education the PA Step by Step conducted the first seminar for the CAP facilitators.
In 2008, PA Step by Step became ICAP’s Regional Training Center for Croatia. (www.internationalcap.org).
The Program was launched in 2000 in 13 schools from different parts of Croatia. Independent evaluation was conducted by Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. The conclusions of the evaluation were:
The data collected by evaluation of resources, Program implementation and its effects are in favour of the CAP Program.
- Based on resources evaluation it has been concluded that the available resources are very suitable for implementation of a quality program: the Program is being carried out by the trained experts, and professional supervision and cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Sports are in place.
- Evaluation of the Program implementation shows high scoring of the workshops for school staff and parents by the participants; children liked the workshops very much, they think they have benefited from them. Implementation evaluation, i.e. process evaluation reveals high professionalism of the CAP facilitators, which is important given the kind and delicacy of the issue.
- Evaluation of the Program’s effects shows significant short-term results: the initiated communication between children and their peers, parents and teachers about child abuse. Parents, teachers and principles think that children have successfully adopted the prevention strategies, whereas children find new knowledge useful and have already applied it on several occasions.
Based on this evaluation we have concluded that it is justified to move on with the Project and to enter into its third phase which assumes wider implementation of the Program. We think that evaluation results show that the CAP must be offered to schools as one of the continuous programs of primary child abuse prevention.
Zagreb, 11 September 2000
Vesna Vlahovic-Stetic, Doc., PhD
Vlasta Vizek Vidovic, Prof., PhD
CAP program has been verified by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.
Program is financed by Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, Ministry of Family, Veterans’ Affairs and Intergenerational Solidarity, Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and local (regional) self-governments.
PA Step by Step has developed a wide Croatian network of the CAP facilitators who are mainly professionals in kindergartens and elementary schools.
In the period from 2000 to 2009 in CAP program participated: 41.794 children, 28.915 parents and 11.247 kindergarten and elementary school staff.
The CAP Program contributes to the implementation of:
- National Plan of Activities for the Rights and Interests of Children from 2006-2012
- Program of Activities for Prevention of Violence Amongst Children and Youth
- Conventions of the Council of Europe on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
The Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project originated in Columbus, Ohio in the late 1970´s, as a response to the rape of a young child. In the early 1978 the Project staff of the Women Against Rape (WAR) received a phone call from a teacher whose second grade student had been raped. The students in her class, their parents and the entire community were traumatized by the event. At that time, few people discussed adult rape, let alone sexual assault against a child. The families wondered how they could protect other children from abuse. Offering emotional support and empowering prevention information, the staff at the WAR responded by developing the original Child Assault Prevention (CAP) curriculum. A year later the program was piloted in schools throughout Columbus. As the CAP´s successes caught on beyond the City of Columbus and the state of Ohio, the National Center for Assault Prevention (NCAP) was created as a CAP training center. Today, the center works under the name International Center for Assault Prevention (ICAP), as a 30- year old international prevention program located in Sewell, New Jersey. So far the CAP Program has been conducted by the trained CAP facilitators in 32 US states and 18 countries around the world.