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01.12.2015 | Study protocol | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

Cluster randomised-control trial for an Australian child protection education program: Study protocol for the Learn to be safe with Emmy and friends

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Codi White, Dianne C. Shanley, Melanie J. Zimmer-Gembeck, Katrina Lines, Kerryann Walsh, Russell Hawkins
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Authors affiliated with Act for Kids will be instrumental in the running and facilitation of the program but will not participate in data collection or analysis.

Authors’ contributions

MZ-G, DS, KW, RH, and KL obtained funding for the study. CW designed and developed the Application of Protective Behaviours Test-Revised (APBT-R) and the Observed Protective Behaviours Test, contributed to the study design, and was the lead author of this study protocol. DS contributed to study design, developed and tested the Protective Behaviours Questionnaire (ProBeQ), Parent Protective Behaviours Checklist (PPBC), Parent Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ), and the End of Session Checklist. DS also contributed to the drafting of this study protocol. MZ-G provided overall conceptual leadership and coordination of the study, contributed to the study design, and the drafting of this study protocol. KL obtained funding for the delivery of the intervention, trained program facilitators, contributed to the study design, and the drafting of this study protocol. KW and RH contributed to the study design, and the drafting of this study protocol. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Author’s information

As per title page.



Child maltreatment has severe short-and long-term consequences for children’s health, development, and wellbeing. Despite the provision of child protection education programs in many countries, few have been rigorously evaluated to determine their effectiveness. We describe the design of a multi-site gold standard evaluation of an Australian school-based child protection education program. The intervention has been developed by a not-for-profit agency and comprises 5 1-h sessions delivered to first grade students (aged 5–6 years) in their regular classrooms. It incorporates common attributes of effective programs identified in the literature, and aligns with the Australian education curriculum.


A three-site cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Learn to be safe with Emmy and friends™ will be conducted with children in approximately 72 first grade classrooms in 24 Queensland primary (elementary) schools from three state regions, over a period of 2 years. Entire schools will be randomised, using a computer generated list of random numbers, to intervention and wait-list control conditions, to prevent contamination effects across students and classes. Data will be collected at baseline (pre-assessment), immediately after the intervention (post-assessment), and at 6-, 12-, and 18-months (follow-up assessments). Outcome assessors will be blinded to group membership. Primary outcomes assessed are children’s knowledge of program concepts; intentions to use program knowledge, skills, and help-seeking strategies; actual use of program material in a simulated situation; and anxiety arising from program participation. Secondary outcomes include a parent discussion monitor, parent observations of their children’s use of program materials, satisfaction with the program, and parental stress. A process evaluation will be conducted concurrently to assess program performance.


This RCT addresses shortcomings in previous studies and methodologically extends research in this area by randomising at school-level to prevent cross-learning between conditions; providing longer-term outcome assessment than any previous study; examining the degree to which parents/guardians discuss intervention content with children at home; assessing potential moderating/mediating effects of family and child demographic variables; testing an in-vivo measure to assess children’s ability to discriminate safe/unsafe situations and disclose to trusted adults; and testing enhancements to existing measures to establish greater internal consistency.

Trial registration

Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ACTRN12615000917​538). Registered (02/09/2015). 
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