Evaluating for Possible Abuse

Just as doctors talk to patients when they are sick, a medical professional will talk to children about their medical history and any concerns or worries. A physical exam is done in a gentle manner. It is done by a medical professional who has special training and experience examining children for possible abuse.

The exam for physical and sexual abuse or neglect begins as a regular head-to-toe checkup. If sexual abuse is suspected, a more thorough exam may be needed. Most children who have been sexually abused, even with a history of penetration, have exam results that are normal. The team does not rely on the exam alone to determine if abuse happened. The reason children have this type of exam is to help them know they are okay.

Doctors and nurses who specialize in this field understand that many children and teens have worries about the results of abuse to their bodies, even if they can’t talk about them. The medical provider will take the time to discuss this with them, which often can be the first step in healing.

Some families want their children to be examined by their family doctor. This field of medicine is a real specialty. Most pediatricians and family practitioners send their patients to a center with the expertise of the Child Advocacy Center.