Defining sexual abuse

Learn about: Defining sexual abuse from Karen Kay Imagawa, MD,...
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Defining sexual abuse

The definition of sexual abuse can vary from state to state, but in general, overall, sexual abuse is the sexual assault on, or the sexual exploitation of a minor with the intent for sexual gratification, so it can involve touching, such as fondling or copulation, genital to genital contact, or it can involve non-touching, such as taking pictures of the child and pornography. That's why, in many states commercial film processors are now considered mandated reporters, because they may see pictures of a sexual nature that are explicit and inappropriate and they would be required to report that. When you think about sexual abuse, you're also thinking about this is a sexual activity that's happening to a child who is not really able to comprehend, based on their developmental level, what is going on. They're not able to give informed consent for what's happening to them, and this is an activity that's happening to them that's beyond what they are developmentally prepared for. A child can be sexually abused by an adult, or they can also be sexually abused by another child, so by virtue of that other child's age and developmental level, they may be in a position of power, responsibility, or trust over the victim, and that would still be sexual abuse even though it's a child with another child.

Learn about: Defining sexual abuse from Karen Kay Imagawa, MD,...


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Karen Kay Imagawa, MD

Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center, Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD: Director, Audrey Hepburn CARES Center, Director, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Program, Division of General Pediatrics; Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, is also the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and is a full-time attending within the Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). She received her medical degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is board certified in General Pediatrics, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, and Child Abuse Pediatrics.  Dr. Imagawa has made significant contributions to program development at CHLA: She is currently the Director of the Joint General Pediatrics – USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Program ,expanding the program to its current position with the largest number of board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatricians (7) in a Southern California program, and was integral in establishing the ACGME accredited Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowship program at CHLA . Dr. Imagawa is also one of the founders and the Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center at CHLA, a multifaceted interdisciplinary child protection center involving evaluation, treatment, prevention, education and research in the field of child maltreatment.  Dr. Imagawa is a court appointed expert (730 paneled expert in both Criminal and Dependency Court) in the field of child abuse, and was actively involved in the development of the Foster Care Hub at CHLA, one of seven designated Hubs in Los Angeles County that were initially established to provide forensic, medical, and mental health screenings for newly detained children entering the foster care system.  She previously served on the advisory group for The California Medical Training Centers formulating standardized training in child abuse, and collaborated on a task force to develop standards at the state level for mental health care for child victims of trauma. She is a medical consultant for the Inter-agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN – the official county agency which coordinates the development of services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect), having participated in various medical task forces establishing protocols and best practice standards for the evaluation and treatment of suspected victims of child abuse, included those with developmental disabilities. Dr. Imagawa’s strength as a clinical educator is also seen in her dedication to education and training. She has been invited to participate in numerous speaking engagements, as well as requests from the media and entertainment industry, involving a variety of topics in the fields of child abuse and/or developmental-behavioral pediatrics. 

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