Families referred to Our Kids have many concerns about what will happen during their visit. The following are answers to those questions that parents often ask when they come to Our Kids. Reading this information and sharing it with your child will help prepare you and your child for your visit.
En Español, Respuestas a Preguntas Comunes.
- Will the exam show whether or not my child has been sexually abused?
- What should I tell my child about coming to Our Kids?
- What should I bring to the appointment?
- How long will my appointment last?
- Who do I call with questions about my appointment?
- Who will be given information about the examination?
- May I stay with my child during the examination?
- Will the exam cause additional trauma to my child?
- Does the exam hurt?
- What happens during the medical exam?
- What happens when I come to Our Kids?
- Who will examine my child?
- Why is the medical exam important?
- Where do I take my child for the evaluation?
- Why do children come to Our Kids?
Not necessarily. Most children have no physical injuries to their genital or anal areas. This does not mean that no sexual abuse has occurred. It is possible that children have been involved in sexual activity and that it has not injured their bodies in a way that leaves lasting signs.
The medical professional who examines your child will sit down with you after your child’s check-up to explain the results of the child’s exam.
Why are there no signs?
Perpetrators do not want to risk losing access to the child, so they don’t want to cause physical harm. Our Kids research shows that only 6% of children have injury from a sexual assault.
Many parents worry that telling children about the check-up before coming to Our Kids will cause them to become upset and worried. However, it is important that children have accurate information about their visit so they will know what to expect, can prepare themselves and have time to ask questions and express their feelings. Children are often less worried and more cooperative with medical procedures when they have been prepared in advance for what they will experience.
A few days before your appointment:
- Explain to your child that they will be coming to Our Kids for a check-up.
- Children should be told that they will talk with a person who will ask questions about their body and their health and that a nurse or doctor will look at their body, including their private parts, to make sure they are healthy.
- Reassure your child that there will be no painful procedures, such as shots, and that the staff at Our Kids will help them every step of the way.
- Encourage them to bring along a stuffed animal, blanket or other comforting object if it will help them feel more at ease.
Similarly, if you are bringing your child to Nashville General Hospital, explain that a nurse or doctor will look at their body to make sure it is healthy. However, at the hospital it is possible that blood will be drawn or that a shot will be given to your child.
If your child has received a genital or rectal exam in the past, medical reports or information about those exams would be useful to us. We will also need your child’s social security number. In Tennessee, there is no charge for medical exams associated with alleged sexual assault or abuse.
Many parents find it helpful to bring an adult friend or relative. These individuals can provide support as well as keep children company while parents talk privately with our professional staff.
2-3 hours. Your appointment will include the medical evaluation, which includes your child’s check-up, and time to talk with you before and after the exam.
Call the Our Kids Center at 615-341-4911. A medical or mental health professional will be happy to talk with you during office hours, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Please let us know about any special needs your child has, or if there is information you feel would be helpful to us before you come for your appointment.
If your child was seen at Nashville General Hospital and you have questions, you may also call us during office hours.
In cases where there is an ongoing investigation into a report of possible sexual abuse, a written report of a child’s medical evaluation can be provided to investigators only. After an investigation, the child’s legal guardian may obtain a copy of the medical report from the records department at Nashville General Hospital.
Many children want a parent or supportive adult in the exam room with them for comfort and reassurance. Other children prefer to do the exam on their own, with no parent in the room.
We will ask your child who, if anyone, they would like to have in the exam room. Whenever possible, we will respect your child’s preference.
It's normal for kids to feel anxious about their exam, so we take as much time as necessary to help children through the medical evaluation, explaining each step of the check-up and finding ways to put the child at ease. We will make every effort to reduce a child's distress during the evaluation.
For most children, the check-up is not painful. No shots are given and no blood is drawn at Our Kids. Nevertheless, children may feel worried or embarrassed about their check-up, and some children report mild discomfort when the nurse practitioner or doctor touches their genital or anal areas.
- Your child will receive a thorough check-up that may include looking at their eyes, ears and mouth, listening to the heart and lungs, feeling the abdomen and checking reflexes.
- Examination of the child’s genital and anal areas involves looking at them to make sure they appear healthy. A special instrument called a colposcope is often used during examination. A colposcope is a light attached to a pair of binoculars, which allows the nurse practitioner or doctor to see a child’s genital and anal areas more closely. The colposcope never touches the child’s body and is never felt by the child. While the colposcope does not touch your child, the examiner will touch your child’s genital and anal areas. The colposcope has a camera attached to it and photographs may be taken during the exam to provide an accurate record of what the child’s body looks like. The pictures may also be used for teaching nurses and doctors.
- Teenage girls sometimes require a pelvic examination involving insertion of an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. Older girls also may need to provide a urine sample to check for pregnancy. Younger girls do not receive speculum exams at our center.
- Your child may also be tested for sexually transmitted infections. This is done by touching your child’s throat, genitals and/or anus with small cotton swabs. A blood test may also be needed. No blood is drawn at the Our Kids Center, but we will assist you in getting any necessary blood tests done through Nashville General Hospital or your local physician or health department.
- You will register at the front desk and complete a questionnaire concerning your child’s behavior and medical history.
- Next, you will meet with a medical or mental health professional who will ask you questions about your child, particularly regarding the statements, behaviors and/or signs that have raised concerns that your child may have been sexually abused. A nurse practitioner or doctor will talk with you further to learn about any medical problems or illnesses your child has had.
- A member of our professional staff will talk privately with your child to answer questions about the check-up, and to prepare the child for the examination. School-aged children may also be asked about worries or concerns they have about their bodies, and about types of sexual contact they have had. This information helps our medical team know what to look for and what tests may be needed during the examination to make sure your child is healthy.
- Following the exam, the results will be shared with you if you are the child’s legal guardian. Any questions or concerns you have will be discussed.
All examinations are conducted by a nurse practitioner or doctor who has received extensive training in the medical evaluation of sexual abuse.
The medical evaluation is done to see if your child has an injury, infection or other physical problem. Most children have no problems and can be reassured that their bodies are healthy. However, if there are signs of injury or infection, these can be documented and treated. There are times during the medical evaluation forensic evidence may need to be collected.
The exam can also provide a psychological benefit, showing a child that you and other trustworthy adults believe them and are making every effort to help. Many children also report a sense of relief once they have a chance to ask practitioners questions and gain reassurance that they are going to be okay.
Our Kids provides services at several locations.
The main Our Kids Center is located at 1804 Hayes Street in Nashville.
Our Kids also provides services as needed after hours at the emergency department of Nashville General Hospital. The evaluation process at General Hospital is similar, however, the examination may be longer and treatment may vary.
Our Kids also holds satellite clinics in 4 other locations in Middle Tennessee. Click here to see clinic locations and phone numbers.
The Our Kids Center, a clinic affiliated with Nashville General Hospital, provides medical evaluations for children when there are concerns about sexual abuse. Children may be referred for examination by the Department of Children’s Services, police department, doctors, hospitals or other concerned adults.
On occasion, a child may be examined at the Our Kids Center for reasons not related to concerns of abuse. A pediatrician or other health care provider may request a second medical opinion from the Our Kids staff due to gynecological concerns or questions.