New policy guidelines aim to protect children from sexual abuse by doctors in Illinois, and elsewhere

Chicago sex abuse attorneys at our firm are taking note that the nation’s largest pediatricians’ group has released their first policy on protecting children from sexual abuse by healthcare professionals in response to a disturbing case in Delaware where a pediatrician filmed himself molesting his young patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a number of guidelines outlining how both parents and professionals should conduct themselves in identifying and protecting against sexual abuse, the Associated Press reported. The academy’s report states that literature regarding the sexual abuse of pediatric patients by providers is sparse, and studies involving abuse between doctors and adult patients are used to provide context on the issue.

The policy says that all medical and health care staff involved in the care of children should be screened for past allegations of abuse, including checking with previous employers and consulting criminal and child abuse registry background checks. These measures cannot be relied on, however, as an estimated less than 1% of child molesters have criminal records. Institutions need to have procedures in place for the reporting, managing, and investigating of potential abuses so legitimate concerns are not overlooked.

The policy also stresses that healthcare institutions need to make it known that the reporting of potential abuses or misconduct is absolutely mandatory, even if the person is not sure such conduct is taking place. It says only two-thirds of cases where a colleague suspect another colleague gets reported, and staff should be made aware that such under-reporting will not be condoned.

Professionals also need to inform parents on their right to chaperone examinations of their young children, and be trained on how to conduct themselves while performing particularly sensitive examinations. They also must explain to parents exactly what they are doing and the reason it is necessary.

The policy warns that incidents of past sexual abuse can lead to an individual’s emotional, behavioral, cognitive, social, and general health impairment. Sexual abuse correlates with an increased frequency of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, poor self-esteem, eating disorders, delinquency, and suicidal tendencies. If parents are aware of any abuse, or suspect potential abuse, they should seek the proper authority immediately. This includes the management of the particular institution, local authorities, or state authorities, depending on how sure the parent is of the misconduct, and how serious the misconduct is.

According to the Associated Press, the former pediatrician who necessitated these policy guidelines was convicted last June on 14 counts of first-degree rape and five counts each of second-degree assault and sexual exploitation of a child. The prosecution alleged that the man recorded himself committing the sex crimes against more than 80 victims, most of who were female toddlers. The policy itself referenced the matter, stating that it served as a reminder that some people in the pediatric profession use their position of authority and trust to take advantage of young children.

After alerting the appropriate authorities and providing for the health and safety of their child, parents of abused children can seek advice from an Illinois personal injury attorney to see what legal remedies they have. Traumatic experiences such as this can stick with a child for the rest of their lives, and making sure they have the means to seek the professional help they require to work through their issues can make a positive difference.

If you or a loved one is a sex abuse victim, call Abels & Annes for a free consultation. Contact us online or call (866) 99-ABELS to speak directly to a lawyer now.

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