The role and scope of medical examinations when there are concerns about child sexual abuse

A scoping review
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Date of publication:  01 Apr 2019 Author:  michelle cutland#uid:17322 Publisher:  Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

This scoping review looks at the global research around the role and scope of CSA medical examinations (paediatric forensic medical examinations) with a particular focus on the lived experience of children and the service specification in England. The accompanying film is a practitioner resource for frontline staff to better understand the role and scope and process so they are informed and educated when explaining the process to children and carers.

It presents evidence of the likelihood that medical examinations can:

  • obtain evidence of CSA (such as DNA or physical findings of CSA) or of other categories of abuse
  • benefit health and wellbeing more broadly, such as by identifying sexually transmitted infections, blood-borne infections, the need for emergency contraception and other unmet physical and mental health needs.

It also reviews the limited evidence on how medical examinations are experienced by CSA victims and survivors, and considers the perspectives of non-abusing parents and carers, siblings and wider family.

Key messages from the evidence:

  • Most children are not referred for medical examination
  • Some professionals have concerns about harm through examination
  • Most children reflect on the medical examination as a positive experience
  • The evidence from research highlights the holistic role and purpose of medical examinations, and they should be viewed in this light
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United Kingdom

This project is funded by: