Following a forensic interview, children are offered a complete physical exam. The exam is offered regardless of the type of abuse and length of time since the abuse. It is a way to reassure the child that his/her body is healthy and to address any physical or mental health concerns.
Prior to the exam, a specially trained medical provider will meet with the caregiver(s) to discuss the child’s medical history and the history of the abuse concerns.
The medical providers use a special tool called the “colposcope”. The colposcope is a light that makes things look bigger, so that the medical providers can see parts of your body better when doing the check-up. The colposcope does not make contact with the child’s body and can be described as a large camera with a very strong zoom.
Medical exams are performed at the Yale Child Sexual Abuse Clinic located at:
One Long Wharf Drive, Suite 130
New Haven, CT 06511
What happens during the exam?
First, the doctor or nurse will talk with you and your child about any medical problems or questions. Then there will be a full head to toe check-up, including a genital exam. This part of the exam is important to be sure there are no injuries or infections. The genital check is not an internal exam. In some cases, the genital area may be touched with cotton swabs to test for infection.
Will the medical exam be able to tell me if anything happened?
It is important to know that a medical exam alone cannot prove child sexual abuse. If any injury has occurred, many children have already healed by the time of the exam. Injuries rarely leave scars, even when there has been penetration. The vast majority of exams will result in a normal and healthy finding of your child.
May I stay with my child during the exam?
Many children want a parent or supportive adult with them. Others do not. Your provider will ask your child if s/he would like to have someone with them during the exam. Even if you are not in the room during the exam, you will have the opportunity to talk privately with the provider afterwards.
Will this exam be upsetting to my child?
The exam is not that different from a regular check-up, and the provider will explain the parts that may be new to the child. No child is forced to have an exam. If a child becomes upset, the provider will stop, and the exam can be rescheduled.
What about confidentiality?
Medical results will be shared only with your written permission. It is important to note that by law, a medical provider may be required to share the results of the examination with Police and/or the Department of Children and Families.