How to talk about sex when your child has been abused

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares advice for parents on how to talk about sex with your child after he or she has been molested
How To Talk About Sex When Your Child Has Been Abused
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How to talk about sex when your child has been abused

Families often wonder about having that safe sex talk, that as your child is reaching puberty and going into adolescent. You want to have that safe sex talk with your child. And yet if the child has been molested, does that change how would you approach that? Again, being sensitive to the fact that you know that your child has been molested. But, the basic information about the safe sex should be the same. That you should have safe sex. Actually, you should probably just tell them, "Wait until you are married!" But, again, just talking about picking good partners. About who are you dating. About picking the right people. About making sure that it's safe. About not contracting sexually transmitted diseases. And, again, child may or may not be ready for something like that. Especially, if they have been molested in the past. Hopefully, they'll be able to get some therapy, to be able to understand that it wasn't their fault. And that when they decide to have a consensual relationship, that that is something different. So, the basics of having the safe sex talk with your adolescent should be the same. However, just keeping in mind that they may bring up some additional questions or may have some additional issues, because of the fact that they have been molested. And, it may be something that you feel comfortable addressing. Or it may be something that you want to address with another health care provider. Whether it be a pediatrician or whether it be another mental care provider.

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares advice for parents on how to talk about sex with your child after he or she has been molested


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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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