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Most children’s hospitals have a sexual abuse team, or will be able to refer you to a specialist in your area.

(The two hospitals that offer this service in your area are Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose and the Keller Center at San Mateo Medical Center.) A sexual abuse examination is comprised of two basic elements.

Historically, a child’s word was not taken seriously.

Over the last twenty years the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme; if a child described sexual contact it was considered a fact, and the volunteering of such information was considered very strong legal evidence.

First, and perhaps most important, your daughter would be interviewed by an expert who very gently elicits information from her about what might have happened.

Efforts are made to minimize the number of times a child has to tell the story and the number of people visibly present during the interview.

Sexual abuse includes any activity with a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or significantly older child (more than about 4 years older).

Children’s intense need for affection and nurturance from older figures makes them vulnerable.

The scenario you have described is the most frequent way actual abuse is detected.

About a month ago she told me a friend of ours touched her vagina.

Since that time she has said nothing else and on gentle questioning she said it did not happen.

Whatever turns out to be true, we must prepare our children to protect themselves against sexual abuse.

Begin by teaching them the proper names and significance of their private parts as soon as they are able to understand (about age 3).

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