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Keeping Child Patients Safe From Health Care Predators

A Texas family counselor was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an adolescent boy, who was one of the 55-year-old psychologist's patients.

Police believe there may be other victims. They are encouraging people who may have been victimized or have information for investigators to contact the Crimes Against Children Unit. Daniel Borunda, "El Paso family counselor arrested after sexually assaulting child patient" elpasotimes.com (Oct. 23, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

All health care providers are mandatory reporters of child sexual abuse under the law. This is because they have, by reason of their professions, access to children’s bodies and minds and can identify the possible signs of child sexual abuse more readily than other adults in a child’s life.

That is what makes a breach of this trust even more egregious. In this matter, a child psychologist, entrusted to better the health of a child, is accused of damaging that child.  

Minors should always be accompanied by a safe adult parent or guardian when consulting medical professionals. If the counseling session requires the parent not hear the conversation, it can be held in a room into which the parent can see to make sure the child is physically safe.

What can safe adults do to prevent abuse during their children's visit to a medical professional?

  • Generally, examinations of young patients should be chaperoned by the child's parent or caregiver.
  • The medical professional should give a full explanation of the examination and the reasons for the examination.
  • Health care providers should always check to determine whether their state or hospital has specific chaperoning mandates. If they do, providers should abide by them.
  • For physical exams, patients should be given privacy during disrobing and provided with appropriate draping during examinations.
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