Victims of child abuse placed at further risk by irresponsible stakeholders
By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody
There are instances where different stakeholders can be irresponsible in their duties and thereby place victims of child abuse at further risk, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at the Teaching Hospital Karapitiya, Dr. Darshani Hettiarachchi added.
A deviation from the expected standards and recommendations in the management of child abuse and victims was evidenced in an incident where a seven-year-old boy was admitted to a hospital with 17 injuries on his body as a result of alleged physical abuse by his biological father. The child was also assessed to be having clinical features of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Women and Children’s Desk at the relevant Police station had advised the child’s mother to withdraw the Police complaint claiming that the father will be convicted of criminal charges if they continue legal procedures. Further, he (the OIC) has advised to ignore the incident as the perpetrator was the child’s biological father.
In this case, the child was admitted with both physical and psychological consequences of abuse, and according to Dr. Hettiarachchi, as per the National Child Protection Policy, no form of abuse and violence, exploitation and neglect, against a child, can ever be justified, and therefore requires a zero tolerance policy.
This clinical example where systems have deviated from the expected standards and recommendations in the management of this issue was cited in an opinion piece titled the ‘Management of victims of child abuse in Sri Lanka: The view of a Child Psychiatrist’ authored by Dr. Hettiarachchi which was published last month in the Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health.