Help at hand: updated guidance on child protection issues now available

Updated guidance on child protection issues is now available, says Amanda Thomas.

In recent years there has been a step-change in society’s understanding of, and response to, child sexual abuse. 
While understanding has grown and we are seeing more children and young people prepared to disclose alleged sexual abuse, challenges still remain. Examples include establishing whether or not a child or young person has been sexually abused, the significance of some of the physical signs present, and ensuring that these signs are translated into a medical assessment that supports the judicial process and ultimately ensures the child or young person is protected from further harm.
We know that more than 2,800 children in the UK needed protection from sexual abuse last year, and with the physical signs sometimes hard to distinguish, child protection experts have launched updated guidance for healthcare professionals to support examinations for child sexual abuse.
The Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse, also known as The Purple Book, brings together the latest knowledge and evidence to aid clinical decision-making. The new version (updated from 2008), includes three new chapters: anogenital signs of accidental injuries in girls and boys, genital bleeding in pre-pubertal girls and healing in anogenital injuries.
The Purple Book was developed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine, the Faculty of Genitourinary Medicine and the Royal College of Physicians of London. It is expected to be the ‘go-to’ for healthcare professionals working in the field.
All healthcare professionals have a duty to protect children from sexual abuse and this updated guidance should give them evidence-based tools to enable a full picture to emerge.
  • Amanda Thomas is consultant community paediatrician.  Dr Thomas is also chair of the Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse project board for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
  • More information can be found here.   
Dr Amanda Thomas consultant community paediatrician.

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