Every child and adolescent suspected of sexual assault or abuse should have a complete physical examination. Even when there is minimal external physical injury, an examination is important for reassurance of the patient’s physical well-being. This in turn can positively influence emotional well-being. The health care provider should determine whether the child or adolescent needs to have an immediate examination in an Emergency Department or be referred to a Child Advocacy Center or other freestanding center. The elapsed time since the incident of abuse, the presence of symptoms, severity of injuries, nature of the abuse, risk of pregnancy, and local availability of providers and resources are key factors in this decision. Whether the sexual assault was a one-time incident perpetrated by a stranger or a family friend or the result of ongoing familial abuse may also affect treatment decisions.
A mental health assessment and referral for treatment and support can be provided any time after the assault. A listing of crisis intervention programs by zip code is available through the NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault, http://nyscasa.org/
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