A randomized controlled trial of Safer Kids - A program for parents reported for child abuse: Short-term effects on further reports of child abuse and related risk factors

Child Abuse Negl. 2023 Sep:143:106329. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2023.106329. Epub 2023 Jun 27.


Background: Millions of children are victims of child abuse world-wide. Consequences include long-term health impacts and large societal costs. Parent training is promising to prevent abuse, but challenges with motivation and attrition must be overcome to reach parents in need.

Objective: To assess the effectiveness and acceptability of Safer Kids, a cognitive behavioral therapy-based parenting program delivered immediately after a report of child abuse. Safer Kids is used within the Child Welfare Services (CWS) in Sweden but has never been evaluated in an RCT.

Participants and setting: In total, 112 families with children 2-12 years referred to the Swedish CWS for physical or emotional child abuse participated.

Methods: Families were randomized to Safer Kids or intervention as usual (IAU). Data from parents, children and CWS were analyzed with multilevel and survival analyses. Primary outcomes were parent-rated child abuse potential and re-reports of abuse. Secondary outcomes were child abuse risk factors and treatment satisfaction.

Results: Data 4 and 7 months from baseline were available for 96 % of the families. All except one family (98 %) who started Safer Kids completed the program. Both groups improved from baseline to follow-ups on most effectiveness outcomes. The changes were not statistically different between groups. Parents and social workers were more satisfied with Safer Kids than IAU.

Conclusions: Short manualized parenting programs can be a way to reach parents reported for child abuse with support. Safer Kids is a viable option to the CWS's standard interventions, as it was equally effective and slightly better accepted than IAU.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04163367.

Keywords: Child abuse; Parenting; Prevention; Randomized controlled trial; Safer Kids.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse* / prevention & control
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents* / psychology
  • Risk Factors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04163367