Improving Empathy in the Prevention of Sexual Abuse Against Children and Youngsters

J Child Sex Abus. 2015;24(7):796-815. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2015.1077366.


The aim of this research is to study the improvement of empathy in child-care professionals (i.e., teachers, psychologists, social workers) involved in the prevention of sexual abuse against children and youngsters. An E-Learning training pilot program was conducted with pre- and post-measures (T(1) = at the beginning and T(2) = after 6 months) using the program's standardized questionnaires of Situational Empathy and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) as a Dispositional Empathy measure. A sample of 42 experienced professionals involved in activities with children and youngsters was obtained from the International Movement of Popular Education in Latin America called "Fe y Alegría." Significant progress was found in the scales of Situational Empathy and in some Coping subscales. The final outcomes seem to indicate that the prevention program elicits important changes in the cognitive sphere and that these changes are more intense when the implication level for the situation is greater. This research shows that empathy can be improved through professional experience and careful situational involvement.

Keywords: E-Learning; Fe y Alegría; child-care professionals; emotions; empathetic communication; intervention pilot program.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / prevention & control*
  • Education, Professional / methods*
  • Empathy*
  • Faculty*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional Competence
  • Young Adult