What are the clinical signs of sexual abuse in children?

Sexual abuse may present with:

  • Inappropriate emotional behaviour (withdrawal, separation anxiety, depression, poor school work, avoiding school)
  • Inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Injuries to the vulva, anus or penis (tears, bruises, tenderness, redness, scars)

Often there are no obvious clinical signs. A family member may report the abuse.

Special investigations may be indicated such as a full blood count and clotting profile if there is extensive bruising, skeletal survey for suspected repeated injury or brain scan if cerebral injury is suspected.

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