Current Content
Volume 34, Number 1
January/February 2008

Continuing Nursing Education
Protecting Youth from
Early and Abusive Sexual Experiences

Lynn Rew
Katherine Bowman

School-age children and adolescents often are exposed to explicit sexual messages and activities that are confusing and that may be detrimental to their health and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors that place youth at risk for abusive sexual experiences and early sexual activity (sexual debut) and to discuss strategies that can protect them from these potentially harmful experiences. A resilience framework guides the discussion of risk and protective factors at the individual, family, and community levels. Nurses working with individuals, families, and communities can thus lead others in creating a protective environment in which American youth can thrive. This protection includes comprehensive sex education and access to other sources of accurate information.