We offer a dedicated children’s service for children up to their 18th birthday who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Non-recent assaults are classified as anything that has happened more than 10 days ago. These cases are dealt with at the sexual assault referral centre (SARC) nearest to you. We have SARCs in Exeter, Plymouth and Truro. The children’s service ensure that every referral for a child or young person is reviewed by the clinical team, to make sure that all health needs are addressed. They consider a broad range of support services for children and ensure appropriate onward referrals to relevant services, including the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service.
Children who have experienced recent cases of sexual assault (10 days or less ago) in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are cared for at our facility in Exeter. They will be given immediate medical care, a forensic medical assessment, emergency contraception if required, and support and advice about what to do next. We can also arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) to support you with any police investigation.
What happens in a forensic medical assessment?
A forensic medical assessment would be carried out by one of our specially trained doctors. They work a lot with children and have had special training in caring for children who have been sexually assaulted. The assessment may include:
- Talking about the child’s health and background
- Checking the child’s ears, nose and throat, listening to their heart and lungs and examining their tummy
- Checking for any injuries on the body surfaces as well as the genital and anal area (external examination only)
- Discussing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and arranging testing
- With girls, considering if emergency contraception (“the morning after pill”) is needed. This can be provided during the assessment
- Collecting forensic samples
- Providing reassurance to children/young people and their families
- Providing onward referrals to support agencies, including the ISVA service
Many people worry about children having a forensic medical assessment; however it can be a very positive experience that aids the recovery process. It allows children and their families to discuss any concerns they have and access any medical care they may need.
We understand that children and their families may feel nervous about the assessment so we allow time for them to go at their own pace, providing a safe and supportive environment. The assessment can be stopped at any point and restarted later.
The police must be involved in any cases of child sexual assault. If you are worried about contacting the police, we can do this for you and provide support through the process.