The Orbit approach
Practical and positive
Orbit takes a practical and positive approach to child sexual abuse prevention, informed by evidence-based research.
The foundation of Orbit is that healthy attachment to adults is the key to preventing, and minimising the impact of, child sexual abuse. The game builds on this foundation by helping the child build a healthy self-concept. It is within this context that the game presents the child with specific information about child sexual abuse and what to do if they are being abused.
Orbit focuses on progressively developing key knowledge and skills. Instead of relying on rules-based rote learning, the game encourages the development of relationships, trust, wellbeing, self-worth, esteem and confidence. The program also works with adults to build support networks, community knowledge and responsibility. In addition, Orbit provides trusted adults with an opportunity to be supported and to discuss child sexual abuse and break the silence that serves to protect perpetrators.
Orbit helps the child build a support network of five trusted adults in the real world. The game guides the child’s decisions so that people from a range of settings are selected. This ensures that children are not selecting adults only from an environment where abuse may be occurring.
If a child who is currently being abused is playing the game, it is possible that they will select an abusive adult as part of their support network. This is one of the reasons for having five adults across a range of environments, ensuring the network includes adults who are less likely to be involved in the abuse.
Healthy self concept
Orbit aims to help the child develop a healthy self concept by building their confidence, problem-solving skills and self-worth so that the child can learn to make informed decisions for their own wellbeing. The program incorporates activities used by professional counsellors to help children build a healthy self concept following abuse. This will be embedded in a wider context of building healthy relationships, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Sexual abuse education
Playing the game and related activities will help the child:
- develop an age appropriate understanding of what sexual abuse is
- recognise that sexual abuse is illegal, and that it is not the fault of the child
- understand that if he/she is being sexually abused, he/she needs to tell all of the adults in his/her support network.
In addition, Orbit looks more deeply at how the child can go about telling their support network about abuse, and the barriers to telling. These barriers include overcoming the influence of the abuser(s) and their power, pressure and control; and fears about what will happen if they tell (e.g. Will the person go to jail? Will I lose my family?). Orbit provides practical options for the child whilst acknowledging that there is no “correct” way to proceed.
Mixed delivery model
The computer game component of Orbit is supported by a set of activities for use in the classroom. The concepts introduced in the game are further developed and investigated in the classroom activities, with the support of the teacher.
The program also encourages parents and other significant adults in the child’s life to be involved, and this website contains supporting materials for adults. Adults in the child’s support network are asked to enter into an agreement with the child – the child gives them a card to carry with them that explains the responsibilities involved in being a child’s “trusted adult”.
Developing the child’s support network is an important aspect of the game. Within the game, children will identify the adults in their support network and create in-game representations of them. These characters will take part in the game and support the child’s game character to complete the game. The child will also have the opportunity to play mini-games with their trusted adults via side-by-side game-play.
How the game addresses perpetrator information
Information from the Queensland Police Service’s Child Protection Unit has been incorporated into the Orbit program, providing realism and relevance to the game and companion experiences. Information on this website for trusted adults includes examples of perpetrator tactics and indicators of child sexual abuse.
Content that has been intentionally omitted from Orbit
Some elements included in other sexual abuse prevention programs were omitted from Orbit. These include:
- stranger danger / anti-abduction
This was excluded because most perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child. In addition, the Being Safety Smart game, already played in many Queensland schools, is focused on anti-abduction safety strategies.
- trust your feelings / intuition messages
Due to the grooming behaviours used by perpetrators, children may not have negative feelings about the abuse situation. In some cases, the perpetrator can make the victim feel “special” or at fault. Orbit uses very clear statements of what sexual abuse is, that it is illegal and that it is never the child’s fault. The program helps children deal with feelings around abuse, but does not use them as indicators of whether behaviour is abusive. The game has been designed with children’s cognitive and emotional development in mind. Children within the specified age group are concrete thinkers and easily able to identify when someone breaks a body rule or the law as opposed to basing their decision to tell on a feeling.
- protective behaviours
Some prevention programs advocate protective behaviours such as saying “No”, crying, running away and self defence. Research indicates that prevention programs should encourage adults to take responsibility for protecting children, rather than putting that responsibility on the children, themselves. However, it is important to educate children about sexual abuse, because usually only the victim and the abuser will be aware of what is going on. Children need to know that sexual abuse behaviours are inappropriate and illegal, understand that they can take action and know what actions to take.
- general safety information, internet safety, playground bullying, etc.
These topics are all important, but Orbit focuses specifically on sexual abuse prevention.