Early childhood care and education providers (CCPs) work with over 7 million young children. These children are vulnerable to physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. However, CCPs make less than 1% of all reports of suspected child abuse and neglect that are made to child protective services. CCPs are therefore an untapped resource in the public health response to child maltreatment. However, their knowledge and attitudes about duties to report child maltreatment are poorly understood. Moreover, no rigorous research has tested whether their knowledge and attitudes about reporting child maltreatment can be improved. These gaps in knowledge are important because knowledge of the duty and positive attitudes towards it produce more effective reporting, and little evidence exists about how to enhance cognitive and affective attributes. Using the CONSORT approach, we report a single-blind test-retest randomized controlled trial evaluating iLook Out for Child Abuse, a customized online educational intervention for CCPs to increase knowledge and attitudes towards the reporting duty. 762 participants were randomized with results analyzed for 741 participants (372 in the intervention group; 369 in the control). Knowledge of the reporting duty increased in the intervention group from 13.54 to 16.19 out of 21 (2.65 increase, 95% CI: (2.37, 2.93); large effect size 0.95, p < 0.001); the control group remained stable, moving from 13.54 to 13.59 (0.05 increase, 95% CI: (-0.12, 0.22); negligible effect size 0.03, p = 0.684). Attitudes were enhanced on all 13 items for the intervention group, remaining stable in the control, with significant differences between groups on all items (p < 0.05). Gains were largely sustained at four month follow-up. Findings support education for CCPs and other professions. Future research should also explore effects of education on reporting behavior.
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