Physical signs that a child has been molested

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares what the common physical signs are of a child who has been molested or sexually abused
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Physical signs that a child has been molested

When a child has been molested they may or may not have actual physical signs. So, sometimes there might be no physical signs at all. And, it may be just the disclosure that the child says, "Hey, someone saw, did such and such to me." And, you basically have the disclosure. But, they might not be complaining of any, or you may not see any physical signs. Sometimes, however, you may actually have physical symptoms and signs. Generally, it involves anal genital region, so there may be rashes, pain when they urinate. Pain when they defecate. Discharge, bleeding, itching, irritation in that area. Other times, you may have more nonspecific complaints. So, it may be just a tummy ache that doesn't go away. The headache that doesn't go away. They just feel crummy all the time. And, they're not specifically telling you what it is that's bothering them. But, children can present this nonspecific signs that may not be specific for molestation or sexual abuse. They could be related to another things as well. Which sometimes makes it confusing for parent. Because, they're trying to figure out "Oh, do they just have the flue? Or they constipated? Or is there something else going on?" So, often times, it's really asking your health care professional, or going to a pediatrician to figure out what may be be going on with your child. In addition, often times, there will be behavioral signs and symptoms that you may see, that the child may present. Because, they're being sexually molested or have been molested.

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares what the common physical signs are of a child who has been molested or sexually abused


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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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