Examination of the young child and abuse

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It is important to assess a young child for evidence of bruising that may be inconsistent with the child’s developmental level or in an unusual area. Most common bruising is on elbows, lower legs and knees. As the child increases his mobility, this type of bruising is not uncommon.

Everyone who works with children knows the criteria that may set off warning flags that a child has been abused. A bruise on the middle of the face, for example, is deemed suspicious. Bruises on the buttocks and the thighs could be suspect of abuse.

The forensic nurse has the potential to prevent an increase in child abuse. His/her early detection of signs or symptoms of child abuse can lead to the removal of the child from a dangerous situation and referral to child protective services. To gain information about this vulnerable population, the nurse needs to rely on the adult caregivers.

The nurse must avoid alienating or intimidating the adults. And contrary to some stereotypical misconceptions, child abuse is not primarily inflicted on poor children. It is untrue that its all one race or class. Child abuse spans all types.

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