Teen Sexual Assault: American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Guidelines For Screening, Treatment And Care Of Abuse Victims

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald February 28, 04:00 am

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated the guidelines involving the screening, treatment and care of teen sexual assault victims. The move comes as the risk of sexual assault happens more often among individuals from ages 12 to 34 in recent years.

As outlined by the AAP in the journal Pediatrics, experts like doctors and health care workers dealing with teens and teen sexual assault victims should be comfortable in reaching out and talking to these individuals to help with their trauma. Pediatricians should be open to treating and screening these teens, and if necessary, recommend any additional help. How they handle the matter will bear an impact on the teen's recovery.

During routine check-ups, pediatricians must discuss and ask their patients regarding dating violence and other histories of sexual violence and assault. Pediatricians must also be oriented on the laws regarding rape or sexual abuse, including the process of reporting this to authorities. Health care workers must also know the agencies or crisis centers around the community to provide the patient with more options and help.

Pediatricians must screen the patient for sexually transmitted infections or post-exposure prophylaxis, as well as provide treatments and follow-ups when necessary. If a pediatrician is not comfortable or unqualified, the patient should be referred to an appropriate and experienced health care professional, as per AAP News.

According to CBS News, the last time AAP released guidelines for dealing with teen sexual assault victims was in 2008. The rise in cases prompted the organization to update its protocol.

"It's extremely important for pediatricians to be prepared for this," Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, one of the experts who prepared the recommendations, said. It's important for doctors not only to be prepared and aware but also skilled and adept in handling sexual assault victims. "You're much more likely to get an answer when you have a rapport," Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center said.

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