School Nurses Avoid Addressing Child Sexual Abuse

J Sch Nurs. 2017 Apr;33(2):133-142. doi: 10.1177/1059840516633729. Epub 2016 Jul 8.


Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a global public health problem with major consequences for the individual child and society. An earlier Swedish study showed that the school nurses did not initially talk about nor mention CSA as one form of child abuse. For the child to receive adequate support, the disclosure is a precondition and is dependent on an available person prepared to listen. The aim of the study was to explore the ability of the school nurses to detect and support sexually abused children. It is a secondary analysis of focus group interviews with school nurses. Thematic analysis was performed. Results showed that the school nurses avoided addressing CSA due to arousal of strong emotions, ambivalence, and a complicated disclosure process. In order to detect CSA and support abused children, attentiveness of sexual abuse as a possible cause of physical and mental ill-health is crucial.

Keywords: abuse; mental health; middle/junior/high school; qualitative research; school nurse knowledge/perceptions/self-efficacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / prevention & control*
  • Child Welfare / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Psychology, Child
  • School Health Services / organization & administration
  • School Nursing / organization & administration*
  • United States