Circles of Safety®

About This Program

Target Population: Youth serving organizations with professionals, paraprofessionals, and all others who work in settings where adults and children and/or adolescents interact including higher education, primary education, early childhood care, child abuse prevention, child welfare including foster and residential care, youth-serving organizations, and faith-based centers

For organizations that serve children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

Circles of Safety® is a foundational training built on the Stop It Now! prevention model and designed to empower prevention teams to lead a systemic shift, becoming proactive in creating safe environments for both children and adults. Circles of Safety® was built by integrating what has been learned about bystander mobilization and Stop It Now!'s experience in providing services and trainings to adults.

Designed to be easily adapted to individual organizations' needs, Circles of Safety® provides tools for development of committed Prevention Teams and to bring condensed community based prevention training modules all community members. Teams are provided training, manuals and ongoing support. The community based training modules are available live and electronically.

Program Goals

The goals of Circles of Safety® are:

  • Create safer conditions for children in settings where children and adults interact
  • Frame prevention both as actions to be taken before there is harm to a child and as a best practice for evaluating all child-based activities and interactions
  • Demonstrate how to have the difficult conversations needed to prevent child sexual abuse including with colleagues, other caregiving adults, decision-makers, those at risk to abuse, the larger community, as well as friends and family
  • Create prevention-focused organizational/institutional cultures including policies, processes, and people systems
  • Increase knowledge of content and models essential to implementing preventive measures
  • Shift beliefs to be more favorable to prevention before there is harm to a child (e.g., primary prevention)
  • Demonstrate behaviors aligned with the Stop It Now! comprehensive, human-rights-based approach to prevention
  • Commit to sustain a culture of prevention through ongoing training and evaluation of prevention activities

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Circles of Safety®.

Essential Components

The essential components of Circles of Safety® include:

  • A framework for understanding prevention of child sexual abuse prevention, including a shared language on prevention of sexual abuse
  • Recognition of relationships as the primary agent of change
  • Emphasis on adults' responsibility for establishing safe boundaries, relationships and environments to protect children from sexual harm and abuse
  • Respect for all individuals who potentially or actually have been impacted by child sexual abuse including those who are at risk to harm children
  • An extensive training program that prepares organizations to build and embed practices for prevention planning and implementation.
  • Development of trainers within an organization to implement Circles of Safety® Awareness to Action community-based modules with staff and audience served by organization
  • A common language, theory, and framework to describe and understand the behaviors that put children at risk for sexual abuse and how to put protective measures into place
  • Development of skills, comfort, and confidence within an organization's staff in order to have challenging conversations needed to create greater safety in their setting
  • Additional follow up support and education to prevention team and trainers to sustain and grow a culture of prevention
  • Strategies and tools to support adaptation and adoption of the model in social and organizational processes

Program Delivery

Recommended Intensity:

This program is not a client-specific intervention, but a whole system approach that targets the entire organization. The focus is to create a prevention focused environment in which prevention is integrated into the culture of the organization and becomes routine.

Recommended Duration:

This program is meant to be implemented at an organizational level and kept as a framework that supports the organization as it imbeds prevention of sexual victimization of children into ongoing activities.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


This program does not include a homework component.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Organizational or system support for team members to implement the program. The training and adoption of the materials into the overall organization or system are the additional resources that are needed to run this program.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Educational requirements vary based on context and setting. Competency and adoption of the model supersede educational level when staff does not have postsecondary educations. Perhaps the most critical minimum qualification is the willingness to believe prevention is possible and commit to taking preventive actions.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:
  • Organizations dedicate necessary resources (human and financial) to implement Circles of Safety® as a system-wide model and approach.
  • Organizations complete the Circles of Safety® training taught by Stop It Now! faculty.
  • Organizations identify staff to be Circles of Safety® prevention team members and/or Awareness to Action facilitators and are supported to organize as a team before the comprehensive onsite trainings.
  • When using Stop It Now!'s training system, the organization's Prevention Team leaders and/or trainers participate in regular learning exchanges via electronic communication venues.
  • Organizations are expected to institutionalize certain core practices. For example, use of Awareness to Action training modules to train new hires on prevention of child sexual abuse.
  • Organizations complete an implementation Action Plan which covers such things as prevention actions, training plan, targets for change and impact tracking.
Number of days/hours:

Staff-led pre-training discussions onsite or via virtual meetings to reach agreement on scope of work (e.g., university system may require multiple regional three-day trainings)

Faculty-led core Circles of Safety® Training: 24 hours over three consecutive days. Plus, monthly 30-45 minute Learning Exchange teleconferences with Circles of Safety® faculty.

It is recommended that organizations maintain the Prevention Team and the Awareness to Action trainer(s).

Initial implementation of Circles of Safety® includes the pretraining consultation, the Circles of Safety® training, and implementation consultation takes a year to year and a half depending on the size of the organization or system. Most organizations continue to use Circles of Safety® as foundational child sexual abuse prevention training in an ongoing way.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Circles of Safety®.

Additional References

Coffman, J. (2003). Lessons in evaluating communications campaigns: Five case studies. Harvard Family Research Project.

Davis, R., Fujie Parks, L., & Cohen, L. (2006). Sexual violence and the spectrum of prevention. National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

Schober, D. J., Fawcett, S. B., Schultz, J. A., Cournoyer, Y., & Wright, R. (2008, February). Collaborative efforts to prevent child sexual abuse in Minnesota: An empirical case study. Poster session presented at the APA Summit on Violence and Abuse in Relationships, Bethesda, MD.

Contact Information

Jenny Coleman, LMHC
Agency/Affiliation: Stop It Now!
Phone: (413) 587-3501
Fax: (413) 587-3505

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: April 2023

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: January 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2015