Defining virginity after sexual abuse

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, explains the philosophical definition of virginity after a child has been sexually abused
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Defining virginity after sexual abuse

One of the questions I often get from families, when they are coming in and the evaluation has been done for sexual molestation is "Is my child still a virgin?" And, even if there has been actual penetration, or not, families are wondering "Is my child still a virgin?" Now, I suppose to look some of the religious beliefs, that maybe if there has been actual intercourse or penetration, that their child would not be considered a virgin from those definitions. What I will say is, "Our philosophy at our Center, The Audrey Hepburn Care Center at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is that the child comes in as a virgin and leaves as a virgin." Because, this was not a situation that the child wanted. It's not something they consented for. It's not something they understood. It's not something that was done in a loving nurturing relationship where they both had those feelings for each other. So, again, we will talk to the families that for us, and for us as the health care professionals, and our philosophy at our Center, is that this young children, they still are virgins. Again, there may be some difference in certain religious beliefs about that. But philosophically, for how we approach it, is that "Yes, your child is still a virgin."

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, explains the philosophical definition of virginity after a child has been 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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