Background: Child abuse is a pervasive and serious problem in the United States. Over 3 million children are the victims of some kind of physical assault by adults. Due to their prolonged contact with children and opportunity to report, nurses should be trained to accurately assess, identify, and manage cases of child abuse. The purpose of this study was to examine student’s experiences with Child Protective Services, and explore their confidence and attitudes related to identifying and reporting child abuse. Factors associated with non-reporting were identified.

Methodology: This was an exploratory, descriptive study. Students enrolled in the online Nursing Research course, NUR 3165, were asked to participate. Forty-four RN to BSN and Concurrent students completed the 27 questions survey on Qualtrics. It included demographic questions, questions regarding the participant’s beliefs about child abuse, The Child Abuse Reporting, Attitude and Experience Survey, and two vignettes. Survey data was analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: There were total of 44 (6 males and 38 females) students who completed the survey; most of them were between the age of 20-24. Fourteen were RN to BSN students who have practiced nursing for more than a year and 30 were concurrent nursing students who are still working on their ASN degree. The results showed that nursing students had positive experiences with CPS and indicated that they had confidence in identifying child abuse. However, students felt that they have not received adequate professional education in this field. Many reported never receiving training regarding child abuse and 84.1% indicated never reporting a suspected case to CPS. When presented with vignettes describing scenarios related to abuse, participants were not able to positively identify cases of abuse versus cases that were ambiguous.

Discussion: Nurses are mandatory child abuse reporters in Florida. Many nursing students indicated that they have never reported suspected cases of child abuse to CPS and some of the reasons for this could be the lack of experience, and proper training and education on child abuse. Regardless of the reason, nursing students should be given adequate education to improve their confidence and attitude in identification and reporting of child abuse cases. Nursing schools could focus on including more hands on activity such as case studies and simulation to improve knowledge. Employers could try to utilize protocols to help identify child abuse.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Loerzel, Victoria


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing




Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date

May 2018