At the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children, the professionals on our team:
- Provide medical care.
- Conduct forensic interviews on behalf of law enforcement.
- Work with the legal system to advocate for your child.
- Help your child and family begin to heal.
We work with law enforcement agencies, child protective services, the legal system and other community professionals to assess, manage and treat children who are suspected victims of abuse and neglect. Evaluation and treatment services include:
- Forensic interviews for law enforcement investigations.
- Forensic medical evaluations, which may include testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
- Parent consultations with a therapist and trauma-focused therapy for children and their families.
- Inpatient medical consultations and follow-up.
Children are generally more relaxed and cooperative when they know what to expect. Try to prepare your child by talking about the appointment before visiting the Center for Safe and Healthy Children.
A forensic medical exam involves a regular checkup, which includes an examination of your child’s private parts. This exam is done using video magniﬁcation to enlarge the private parts and document any injuries. The doctor or nurse may also test for infections. Our team will explain this process to you and your child in more detail at the appointment.
You may be contacted to schedule an appointment at the Center for Safe and Healthy Children, or you can call the intake line at 404-785-3833.
Forensic interviews are not required at all appointments at the Center for Safe and Healthy Children. However, law enforcement may request your child participate in a forensic interview at the center or a partner agency. This interview will be conducted by a forensic specialist who is trained to talk with children who have allegedly been abused.
It is important to provide safety, comfort and support to your child if you suspect your child is or has been a victim of child abuse. Let your child know that it is OK to cry or be upset. Make sure your child understands that what happened is not their fault and that you believe them. Do not coach or pressure your child to talk about things.
When you talk to your child about the alleged abuse, say things like:
- I believe you.
- I know this is not your fault.
- I will take care of you.
The doctor or nurse practitioner will talk with you about the results of the exam and answer questions you may have. If your child is old enough, your child may also be included in the discussion.
- A follow-up visit will be scheduled if needed. Be sure to keep all follow-up appointments. We will work with you to ensure the well-being of your child.
- You may receive teaching materials or referrals for further services. These are offered to you and your child for additional treatment or support.
If a report must be made to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) or law enforcement, the social worker will talk with you about this.
Your child’s exam will be similar to a pediatric checkup. It will be performed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. During the exam, the doctor or nurse practitioner will do the following:
- Examine the child’s entire body, including eyes, ears, mouth, stomach and genital area (privates).
- In many cases, whether your child is being seen for physical or sexual abuse, a piece of equipment called a colposcope will be used. The colposcope does not touch your child but provides a lamp and a magnifying glass to help the doctor or nurse check for signs of injury or infection.
- In most cases, we do not need to do a speculum exam. We are only looking at the outside of the genitals. Speculum exams are rare and only needed with some adolescent patients.
- When necessary, cotton swabs are used to wipe the genital area, collect specimens and test for infections, including some sexually transmitted infections.
- Sometimes we need to take a blood specimen to test for more diseases. In this case, we offer a medicated cream to numb your child’s arm so the needlestick won’t hurt.
If any of the tests come back positive (indicating infection), we will contact you.
There is nothing you or your child needs to do to prepare for the exam. However, if the alleged sexual abuse occurred within the past 72 hours, it is recommended that you do not bathe your child or brush their teeth until after the medical exam.
At the start of your appointment, your child will meet with a child life specialist and medical assistant who will do the following:
- Take your child’s height, weight, blood pressure and temperature.
- Explain what will happen during the exam and allow your child to see and touch the equipment that will be used.
- Provide options to distract your child during the exam, including:
- Watching a movie.
- Reading a book.
- Listening to music.
- Playing a game.
- You will check in and complete registration for your child’s appointment.
- You will be asked to complete hospital consent forms and medical history forms for your child.
- Before your child’s exam, you will meet with members of the Center for Safe and Healthy Children team. They can answer any questions you might have and explain the medical exam to you.
- The parent/guardian’s photo ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, ID card)
- The child’s medical insurance information (e.g., insurance card)
- Any paperwork provided to you by your child’s doctor
- A case number provided to you by law enforcement
- Any custody documents requested at time of scheduling appointment
- Cash ($6) to cover the cost of parking onsite