No needles, no pain
The medical evaluation is an important part of the investigation, often providing valuable evidence. In order to obtain the most accurate information possible, children are examined without the presence of a parent or caregiver. This approach encourages children to share information they might withhold if they fear the information might upset a caregiver.
Our pediatrician follows an exam protocol to evaluate every part of your child’s body. The doctor asks questions throughout the evaluation about each part of your child’s body. This thorough evaluation is important for collecting potential evidence, but your child is reassured throughout the exam process. Children are never forced to participate in any part of the assessment if they do not want to.
It is our preference to use our county’s Designated Medical Professional, Dr. Jenni DeLeon, because of her experience and specialized training in working with child abuse cases. You can, however, request that your child see the child’s own pediatrician if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child and the case.
We are working toward equipping two exam rooms at the center in order to begin providing this service in-house. For the time being, evaluations are conducted at Dr. DeLeon’s office at North Bend Medical Center.
Examination of the child’s genital area is often the most stressful part of the exam for parents and children. We assure you that this part of the exam is as minimally invasive as possible, with no equipment touching your child or causing pain.
Your child will be reassured throughout the process that no part of this examination is painful. A lighted magnifying device called a colposcope is used to identify any visible clues or evidence of abuse. This exam is not at all the same exam a woman experiences during a pelvic exam or pap smear. The colposcope does not touch the child. Photographs of any injuries discovered during the exam may be used as evidence.
We understand that children who have been abused are concerned about their safety and their bodies. This exam is intended to help restore their sense of trust and safety. We want children to feel comfortable sharing their stories in a caring, child-centered environment.
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the medical examination process:
Is the medical exam required?
We will never force children to do anything they are not comfortable participating in. We offer a medical exam if we think it will help acquire essential evidence, or if a physical health or safety issue needs to be addressed, such as:
- The abuse allegation is sexual in nature.
- The abuse allegation involved the child’s genital area.
- The child has symptoms of pain or bruising on any body part.
- The child or parent has questions that can best be answered by a physician.
- The child requests an examination or requires reassurance that can be provided through an exam.
- The type of abuse is unclear and/or may be clarified by a thorough examination.
- The child shows emotional or physical signs of abuse.
Who can be present during the exam?
Because the goal is to gather as much information as possible, parents or caregivers are usually not encouraged to accompany the child. The pediatrician will complete the exam with the assistance of another medical professional.
Will the exam hurt?
No part of the exam should be painful for your child, and your child will be given choices throughout the entire exam. Children are never forced to participate in any part of the exam. The exam of the genital area is done with equipment that never touches your child. The pediatrician will work hard to reassure your child throughout the exam.
Why do you take pictures?
Pictures often provide evidence to help your child’s case. These pictures are never shared with anyone who is not part of the investigative and legal team.
About Karly’s Law
Oregon adopted Karly’s Law in 2008, requiring medical evaluation and care in cases of suspected physical abuse. It was named after a 3-year-old Corvallis girl who died from abuse after allegations were not investigated.
Meet Dr. DeLeon
The Kids’ HOPE Center’s Medical Director is Jenni DeLeon, MD. She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and has practiced at North Bend Medical Center since 2004.
Dr. DeLeon graduated from Harvard University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She completed her medical school training in 1997 at the University of Vermont, after which she served an internship and residency in pediatrics at University of Arizona in Tucson. She speaks fluent Spanish.
As the county’s Designated Medical Professional (DMP) under Karly’s Law, she reviews and oversees all Karly’s Law cases in Coos County. Because of her training and expertise, she is the medical resource for all physicians in Coos concerning child abuse issues and needs.