The prevalence of sexual abuse among adolescents in school.

Elizabeth M. Saewyc, Sandra Pettingell, Lara L. Magee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Sexual abuse is a profound stressor that complicates the development and health of adolescents, yet its prevalence has been difficult to estimate among adolescents in school populations. This study explored the prevalence of both incest and nonfamily abuse in 2 cohorts of adolescents in Minnesota in the 1990s (1992: N = 77374; 1998: N = 81247). Findings indicate that sexual abuse was reported by both boys and girls and among students of all ethnic groups. Approximately 10% of adolescents reported sexual abuse in each cohort, with girls 5 times more likely to report abuse than boys. Ethnic variation was minor, with African American, Native American, and Hispanic teens slightly more likely to report abuse than White or Asian American youth. School nurses should routinely assess for a history of sexual abuse in adolescents and should be prepared to provide support and referral for abused students and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-272
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of school nursing : the official publication of the National Association of School Nurses
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2003


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