Special circumstances pertaining to child abuse after age 12

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, explains the special circumstances when examining a child after the age of twelve who has been abused
Special Circumstances Pertaining To Child Abuse After Age 12
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Special circumstances pertaining to child abuse after age 12

One of the things to remember is that with adolescence, adolescences have their own rights. And different states have different laws. But, when we are talking about adolescence and child molestation, as an example of state of California. a child who is 12 year of age or over has to consent or refuse anything that has to do with sex and any sexual issues or their genitalia. And so, they can refuse an exam or they can consent to an exam. So, even though the child may have been molested, so an adolescent may have been molested, and the investigation agencies are doing their thing. And they want an examination done, and the parent may want the examination done. the child has the right to refuse that. What I do with my adolescence patients is, I talk to them about "Well there are two kinds of exams: there's examination about your health. Is everything okay, have you transmitted any sexual disease, is there any injury that needs to be treated." So, there's that health issue that I wanted to discuss with them. Then there's the evaluation that has to do with forensic piece of the evaluation. Do we to collect DNA, do we want to gets swabs, do we want to - See if can figure out any evidence that may help us get the perpetrator. So, I let the adolescence know. There's two parts of the examination. What's important for their health is that we do health part of their evaluation. If the forensic part, if they don't want to get forensic part done, that's okay. And I've actually, in my years of experience, never had adolescence refuse the medical health part of it. They may have refused the forensic part of it. Or sometimes they'll say, "Well, go ahead and do the forensic part of it. But, don't give that information to the police. Let me think about it for a little bit." And then we'll talk a little bit after the evaluation is done. And they can decide whether they want that forensic piece of evidence handed over for an investigation. But, I do want to make it clear for the families, that adolescence is different in different states. What that age cutoff is. But adolescence, do you have the right to consent or refuse this types of evaluation. Which can be frustrating for parents. Because they're like, "No, no, no. I want to get this evaluation done." But, just remember, your adolescent does have the rights for their body.

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, explains the special circumstances when examining a child after the age of twelve who has been 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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