The Center for Violence Prevention Research Awarded CDC Grant to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Abuse Prevention Programs in a Youth Sports League

Stop It Now! and USA Football will partner with the Center for Violence Prevention Research on the $1.8 million, five-year study of the Circles of Safety® program designed to prevent child sexual abuse

The following press release is courtesy of the Center for Violence Prevention Research and Stop it Now! 

December 1, 2022 — The Center for Violence Prevention (CVPR), Stop It Now! (Now!) and USA Football announced today a first-of-its-kind research collaboration focused on the prevention of child sexual abuse (CSA).

CVPR, a research institution focused on the prevention of violence impacting women and children, was awarded $1.8 million by the CDC to conduct a five-year study to evaluate the effectiveness of Circles of Safety®, a CSA prevention program. Through an existing partnership between USA Football and Now!, the study will examine outcomes of the program for community-based youth football leagues.

“Studying if and how educating adults can protect children from child sexual abuse is an incredible research opportunity. USA Football is a forward-thinking organization that should be commended for their efforts to prioritize child safety,” said Melissa Bright, PhD, President of CVPR and the lead researcher on the project. “The data we generate from this study will provide new evidence of how adult-focused prevention programs can keep more children safe from abuse and trauma.”

The Circles of Safety® program was designed by Stop It Now! to prevent child sexual abuse in youth-serving organizations by offering education and support to adults. At least 30 youth football leagues affiliated with USA Football will participate in the study, which will provide the Circles of Safety® curriculum to volunteer coaches and league leadership.

“We have implemented Circles of Safety® across the country for more than 10 years and have trained more than 100,000 adults. The training is informed by our 30 years of preventing abuse, the latest research and expert insights on helping adults identify boundary violations and feel confident speaking up before a concerning behavior escalates to abuse,” said Jenny Coleman, LMHC, Director of Stop It Now!, which created the Circles of Safety® program. “This is our first opportunity to conduct a thorough evaluation to understand its effectiveness in preventing abuse. The research being done by the center will provide invaluable information to help us improve the program, implement it more widely, and ultimately, protect more children.”

Outcome data from the study will include rates of disclosed CSA in the participating leagues; potentially harmful behaviors from coaches, league staff and other youth; staff and coaches’ knowledge of CSA; and rates of preventive action taken. The data from this study will provide critical guidance on the success of adult-focused CSA prevention programs, adding to the body of research intended to help keep children safe. The project will be supported through a $1.8 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“USA Football is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of young athletes in the programs we serve,” said USA Football CEO & Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck. “Children have the right to enjoy the community, exercise and friendships of football free from abuse. Stop It Now! is a valuable partner whose Circles of Safety® program is part of USA Football’s nationally accredited Youth Coach Certification. The information provided by their upcoming study will benefit a generation of young football players and their families.”

The Center for Violence Prevention Research (CVPR) works to advance the scientific evidence for what works to prevent family violence. CVPR focuses on designing and evaluating prevention programs for women and children who experience or are at risk for experiencing violence, conducting both original research and evaluations of existing programs. 

Stop It Now! (Now!) is a nonprofit organization currently celebrating its 30th anniversary preventing child sexual abuse. Now! is the only organization of its kind in the United States, offering primary prevention through each of its national programs: a helpline, vast online resources, training and advocacy. Across our work, Now! offers hope to adults, families, survivors, bystanders and professionals with an emphasis on protective actions that hold adults accountable for protecting children and creating safe, healthy spaces. Learn more at

About USA Football: USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school and other amateur players.

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