A psychological assessment protocol to supplement the medical triage regarding child abuse cases admitted to emergency departments
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Child abuse (CA), which includes child sexual abuse (CSA), affects many children in South Africa. The true magnitude of this problem is not fully comprehended or comprehensively reported, as many of CA cases are not reported or disclosure is delayed. It was therefore vital to obtain pertinent, relevant and uniform information for the effective management of the situation. Firstly, this paper critically reflects on and evaluates findings gained from a literature review conducted to identify issues regarding the direct management and support of abused children who are seen in emergency departments at hospitals or clinics. Secondly, it reflects personal insight from first-hand experience in working with CA victims in an emergency department setting. A systematic search regarding psychological assessment protocols used when dealing with child abuse cases in the emergency departments was conducted using various databases. The study provided insight into international trends that can be applied to circumstances that prevail in a South African context. Based on this study and personal experience, a guideline is tendered regarding the development and implementation of a psychological intervention strategy that could supplement the medical triage currently used in emergency departments. It is with the unique South African context in mind that this simple three-phase psychological intervention strategy is proposed in order that all role players acquire a uniform guideline in obtaining precise and relevant documented information regarding the victim, the situation and the support systems relevant to the incident.
- Faculty of Education