Term of Award

Summer 2005

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Carol J. Strickland

Committee Member 1

Donna Hodnicki

Committee Member 2

Kathy Thornton

Abstract

Thorough and detailed forensic medical examinations on sexually abused children can result in findings that make stronger cases against alleged perpetrators involved in child sexual abuse. A retrospective chart review was conducted of 1561 child abuse cases occurring in the Middle Judicial Circuit of Georgia during a 3-year period. Charts were reviewed to assess whether or not the child received a forensic medical examination and if the examination was performed by a trained or a non-trained forensic examiner. Court conviction data were obtained from the office of the district attorney in order to compare conviction rates to the forensic medical examining training. Of 1561 child abuse charts reviewed, 756 (48.4%) were sexual abuse cases. The major finding that emerged during the research, whether or not the perpetrator was convicted, was the surprising lack of forensic medical examinations being performed on children who were victims of sexual abuse. In addition, the majority of cases were never even referred to the district attorney's office for prosecution. A corollary and serendipitous finding was the emotional healing that began to take place as a result of the child receiving a forensic medical examination.

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