Every day in France, two children die from child abuse. In 2020, more than 110,000 cases of violence against children were condemned by the courts, but only 5% of cases were detected by the medical profession.
To help these often silent victims, seven teams of health professionals are deployed in hospitals in the Ile-de-France region, “But also in Brest and Grenoble”, precise France Info. Doctor, nurse, social worker, these teams aim to help doctors identify situations of violence.
This initiative was launched by Doctor Céline Greco from Necker Hospital, herself a former victim of abuse. In her case, it is only at the age of 14 that a school nurse will give the alert. “I was waiting for someone to reach out to me and it didn’t come […] I was hospitalized twice for really terrible chronic abdominal pain, I had a terrible stomach ache because I was actually scared, I was scared of dying “, she confides to France Info. “I was operated on for appendicitis, but no one thought at the time that maybe there was a cause for the abdominal pain.”
“Either we are afraid of wrongly reporting and therefore harming a family, or we are afraid of missing out and therefore not protecting a child who needs it”
According to her, there are real gaps in the training of nursing staff on the subject of child abuse. “There are very specific signs, but that requires real training, an expert eye that we don’t have at all”, she laments. “It is hard to imagine that a parent can harm their child. It is borderline an archaic taboo!”. For Doctor Solène Loschi, referring doctor of the future mistreatment unit of the Trousseau hospital, in Paris: “Either we are afraid of wrongly reporting and therefore harming a family, or we are afraid of missing out and therefore not protecting a child who needs it.”
Last year, the pediatric department at Trousseau Hospital reported around 50 cases of mistreatment. Reports that have doubled compared to last year. “These teams are currently funded by the collection of Yellow Pieces, but the State Secretariat for Child Protection wishes to generalize the experience to the entire territory by the end of the year”, specifies France Info.
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But what are the bruises that should alert?
In Chicago, a pediatric medical team has been set up to help differentiate a bruise due to a fall and a bruise due to child abuse. This device called “TEN-4-FACESp” from the medical team at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, makes it possible to target the diagnosis according to the location of the bruises.
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It is often difficult to spot bruises that should alert oneself: torso, ears, neck, angle of the jaw, cheeks, eyelids and the white part of the eye, it can be a case of abuse.
An application should see the light of day in the fall of 2021 in the United States, it is hoped that this initiative will inspire France to better protect victims of child abuse.