No parent wants to think about his or her child as the victim of violence or abuse. But if you suspect that your child has been harmed in some way, the forensic nurses at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital can provide the care and evaluation that your child needs. Forensic nurses gently help abused children get the services and treatment they require.
Forensic nurses are specially trained to provide healthcare services to victims of crime as well as collect evidence to help investigate suspected abuse sensitively and compassionately while maintaining the integrity of evidence. St. Mary's Hospital has nine forensic nurses who are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All of our forensic nurses have received additional training to work with children.
What You Should Know If You Think Your Child Has Been Abused
If you believe your child has been abused, your child needs professional attention. If your child is injured, please call 911 or your pediatrician, or come to the Emergency Department at St. Mary's Hospital.
If your child mentions something that sounds like abuse, let him or her tell you about it. Even though it may be difficult, try to remain calm. Abuse is a traumatic experience, and if a parent or guardian reacts by becoming upset, the child may be further traumatized. It's best to listen and to answer your child's questions.
It's also a good idea to try not to ask many questions because this may confuse the memory of the event and jeopardize any future testimony. The forensic nursing staff has the training and experience to gather information from suspected victims of abuse in such a way as to collect appropriate testimony.
It is important to bring the child to receive medical evaluation as soon as possible. After 72 hours, there may be little usable physical evidence remaining and most protective medications should be given as soon as possible. Before a medical evaluation, the child should not:
- Eat or drink
- BatheChange clothes
- Brush his or her teeth
- Use the bathroom
Your child first will be seen by a physician and depending on the type of abuse detected, the forensic nurse will come to the Emergency Department to speak to your child and you. Depending on the specifics of the events, the forensic nurse may examine your child and collect evidence if needed and decide what steps to take next. We respect your child's privacy by maintaining a special, private area of St. Mary's Hospital for this process. You can rest assured that our forensic nurses — and everyone at Bon Secours — will treat your child in a sensitive, calm, and appropriate manner to collect the needed information.