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Center for the Protection of Children has launched free, updated child abuse training

Penn State College of Medicine’s Center for the Protection of Children has launched a new version of its free, interactive learning program iLookOut for Child Abuse (iLookOut). The new evidence-based training will evaluate how well brief, follow-up gamified learning exercises help people remember what they have learned.

The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act requires states to outline the responsibilities of individuals who work in child-related careers and have processes in place for these individuals to report abuse. Commonly known as mandated reporters, these individuals are legally required to report known or suspected cases of child maltreatment to their local child protective services agency. iLookOut meets the Act 31 training for all mandated reporters in Pennsylvania and is the recommended mandated reporter training for Head Start programs nationwide.

“Each year in the United States, there are more than 650,000 confirmed cases of child maltreatment, though the true number of cases is estimated to be two or three times that,” said founding director of the Center for the Protection of Children and iLookOut director Benjamin Levi, MD, PhD. “As society members, we have a moral responsibility to protect children from these harms. But despite the proliferation of child maltreatment training there is little evidence they are effective.”

Sponsored by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, iLookOut was created by a multi-disciplinary team and is available in both English and Spanish. Results of a rigorous five-year research study demonstrated that the iLookOut training significantly improves knowledge and changes attitudes about child maltreatment and its reporting.

This new version of the learning program builds upon the previous version’s success by:

  • Using video-based storylines and gamified learning exercises to teach key concepts;
  • Explaining what reasonable suspicion means when deciding whether to report child maltreatment;
  • Clarifying true risk factors for child maltreatment and dispelling myths and misconceptions;
  • Helping users recognize biases that can influence decision-making;
  • Showing how critical thinking can help prevent unwarranted reports; and
  • Providing skill-building exercises for asking questions and having difficult conversations.

“Protecting children without causing significant collateral damage is a challenge that has no easy answer,” said Levi. “But given the enormous cost to children and their families, and to society at large, all of us will benefit by becoming more informed critical thinkers who are prepared to protect children while also supporting families.”

To learn more about the training tool, visit

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