AAP Issues Policy to Protect Children from Sex Abuse by Physicians

The policy urges medical facilities to take precautions and steps in order to protect child patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its first policy on protecting children from sexual abuse by physicians; the policy urges medical facilities to screen employees for previous abuse allegations and/or convictions, as well as take other precautions and steps in order to protect children from being taken advantage of by employees in the medical field.

The policy advises doctors to inform both parents and patients that the child is entitled to have a chaperone present during exams. Further, the policy urges the implementation training programs in order to educate future physicians concerning the appropriate boundaries between a doctor and a patient.

Finally, the policy affirms that health care facilities should not hesitate to report suspicions of abuse to the authorities.

"Any sexual abuse of children by medical providers is a profound betrayal of their responsibility for patient well-being, trust, and medical ethics," states the policy.

In reference to this new policy, the American Academy of Pediatrics cited an instance which occurred in June, when a former Delaware pediatrician, Earl Bradley, was convicted on fourteen counts of first-degree rape and five counts each of second-degree assault and sexual exploitation of a child.

According to the prosecutors, Bradley recorded videos of sex crimesagainst over eighty child victims, the majority of them female toddlers.

It is this case which "reminded us that some among the pediatric profession may use their position of authority and trust to take advantage of their patients," the policy states.

The full policy statement is available online, and will appear in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics.