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An evaluation of computerized behavioral skills training to teach safety skills to young children


  • An earlier version of this article was submitted by the first author as a dissertation to Western New England University in partial fulfillment of requirements for a doctoral degree. The computer game described in this series of experiments is not currently available publicly, but, after further testing, will likely be released in the future.


Previous research has demonstrated the efficacy of behavioral skills training (BST) and in situ training (IST) for teaching children to protect themselves. However, BST may be resource intensive and difficult to implement on a large scale. We evaluated a computerized version of BST (CBST) to teach safety skills and determined the extent to which safety skills generalized across different dangers. In Study 1, 11 children learned, via CBST and IST, to respond safely when asked to leave with a stranger. In Studies 2 and 3, IST was implemented with 16 children for 1 or 2 dangers after exposure to CBST for 3 dangers. Participants correctly self-protected from dangers after CBST and IST, and performance generalized to similar dangers for which participants did not receive IST. CBST may be an acceptable substitute for BST when combined with IST to improve efficiency and maintain efficacy in a comprehensive safety skills program.