The WHO has issued new guidelines for treating with children and adolescents who were a victim of sexual assault or rape.
The guidelines are issued to assist front-line healthcare providers to give high-quality, compassionate, and respectful care to children and adolescents who have or may have experienced sexual abuse, including sexual assault or rape.
ABOUT THE GUIDELINES
The new WHO Clinical Guidelines are grounded in human rights standards and ethical principles.
The guidelines recommend that healthcare providers put the best interests of children first by ensuring confidentiality and privacy, respecting their autonomy and wishes, and addressing the needs with vulnerabilities such as LGBTI adolescents.
PROBLEMS FACED BY CHILDREN
DIFFERENT FROM ADULTS– The dynamics of child sexual abuse are different from those of adult sexual abuse and children rarely disclose sexual abuse immediately after the event.
INCREASING NUMBER– A 2011 study estimates that 8% of boys and 18% of girls worldwide have experienced sexual abuse.
STRESS AND HEALTH ISSUES– WHO says that victims of sexual abuse face being diagnosed with long-term post-traumatic stress disorder and are more likely to engage in unsafe sex, drug, and alcohol abuse, placing them at higher risk for STD.
PREGNANCY ISSUES– In case of girls, there is also the increased risk of pregnancy and gynecological disorders.
Provide first line support that is child or adolescent-centered and gender sensitive in response to the disclosure of sexual abuse.
Offer HIV post-exposure prophylaxis and adherence support to those who have been raped and who present within 72 hours.
Offer emergency contraception to girl child who has been raped and who present within 120 hours/ 5 days.
Consider STI presumptive treatment or prophylaxis in settings where the laboratory testing is not feasible.
Consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a trauma focus for those have PTSD symptoms and diagnosis and, where safe and appropriate to do so, involve at least 1 non-offending caregiver.
Offer Hepatitis B and HPV vaccination as per national guidelines.
Where required to report child sexual abuse to designated authorities, the health care providers should inform the child or adolescent and their non-offending caregivers about the obligation to report abuse and limits of confidentiality before interviewing them.
The guidelines will assist WHO the Member States to ensure the health and well-being of children and adolescents and implement the Global Plan of Action on strengthening the health systems response to violence against women and girls and against children, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 2016.