what does a forensic nurse do?
Did you know that child sexual abuse is a very common problem in today’s society? Some literature estimates that 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 5 boys will be sexually abused by the time they reach their twenty first birthday. Pretty scary…. right?
November 12 through November 16 is Forensic Nurse Week. A Forensic Nurse specializes in the care of sexual assault patients. They participate in the legal system by collecting evidence, and providing courtroom testimony. Pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners or PSANEs for short specialize in the care of pediatric victims.
Dayton Children’s hospital is fortunate to have an entire group of PSANEs. These nurse work in the emergency department twenty four hours a day seven days a week. They are a dedicated group of compassionate nurses.
I am proud to be one of those nurses.
Why are PSANEs important to Dayton Children’s and the community?
Approximately two hundred and forty children a year come to Dayton Children’s Emergency department for suspected sexual abuse. The ages of these little victims range from infants to teens. The PSANEs at Dayton Children’s are not only skilled in the care of sexual abuse patients but they are best suited for the developmental needs of children. In other words, PSANEs explain the healthcare setting in a manner that kids understand. They are able to adapt their techniques to match the needs of the child.
What can you do as a parent?
Should you run over to child and start preaching stranger danger? It’s not a bad idea to alert children to the dangers of people they do not know. However, most sexual abuse is by someone the child knows and trusts. It could be a relative, close family friend or someone they know from church or school. Stranger abuse is rare.
It is a good idea to teach your child the difference between “good” and “bad” touching. Let them know that if someone touches them in a manner that makes them uncomfortable they should say “no” and they should let you know.
When your child is three years old teach him or her correct names for their genital parts. Tell them these areas are private and shouldn’t be touched by other people. A child who knows the correct names will be able to communicate if someone has touched them inappropriately.
Be alert to people or situations that just don’t seem right. Pedophiles are manipulators. Often they will gradually build trust with a child by buying gifts, or taking them on fun outings to places like the zoo or baseball games. They may even test their future victims by telling them a “secret”. They will then wait and see if the child will tell someone. Once the abuse has started, pedophiles use threats to keep the child from telling anyone the abuse has occurred.
Finally, spread the word about child sexual abuse. Ask your friends or neighbors if they know it is Forensic Nurse Week. Or ask them if they know how common child sexual abuse is? This will surely get the conversation going!
April Denlinger has worked at Dayton Children’s for twelve years. She got her nursing degree at Clark State Community College and her BSN at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She is the first nurse at Dayton Childrens to obtain a SANE-P certification.