Doctors are just one of many adult professionals that our children interact with, and as parents, we naturally assume good intent. They are the helpers. They are the ones we take our children to when we cannot make them feel better or keep them on track for a happy and healthy life. However, there have been many high-profile cases over the last few years in which doctors were sexually abusing their young patients. So, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with recommendations to make children and parents feel safer at the doctor’s office.
What are those recommendations?
1. Everyone working or volunteering at a doctor’s office or medical facility needs to have a proper background check.
2. There must be explicit policies on sensitive exams (genital and breast).
3. Training needs to be provided regarding staff-patient boundaries.
4. All staff must know the procedures for reporting abuse by colleagues.
5. Policies need to be in effect that place a second adult from the doctor’s office in the exam room when a sensitive exam is being performed.
6. Doctors should explain to the child and parent why a sensitive exam is being done and what is happening during the exam, so the child (and parent) is informed.
7. Doctors should receive specialized treatment to give a sensitive exam.
Bottom line – always speak up if you have questions about what is happening during your child’s doctor’s visit and teach your child to do the same. Insist that the doctor ask permission to touch your child before beginning the exam and to talk through what is happening. The doctor’s office is a great place to teach your young child about consent and that no one should touch their body without permission.
To read the AAP’s complete list of recommendations, click here.