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September/October 2016Vol. 17, No. 7Guidelines for Pediatric Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Examinations

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence on Women (OVW), published a set of protocols for forensic medical examinations of children suspected to have experienced sexual abuse. A National Protocol for Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Examinations—Pediatric is a guide for health-care providers who conduct sexual abuse medical forensic examinations of prepubescent children and for professionals and entities that coordinate with health-care providers to arrange for such procedures. OVW funded the International Association of Forensic Nurses to develop the pediatric version of the guidelines—previously issued guidelines (PDF - 893 KB) focused on adults and adolescents. The advisory committee included child abuse pediatricians, pediatric sexual assault nurse practitioners, children's hospitals, hospital emergency departments, children's advocacy centers, law enforcement agencies, and prosecutors.

The protocol offers recommendations to establish the standardized examination of prepubescent children suspected to have experienced sexual abuse and to coordinate across disciplines to best serve the needs of children and their families. The medical examination is designed to address victims' health-care needs, promote healing, and serve as important forensic information in legal proceedings to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence. Guidelines include specific considerations for how best to treat children during the sensitive process of the forensic examination as well as examination directions.

Access A National Protocol for Sexual Abuse Medical Forensic Examinations—Pediatric at (2 MB).