As a result of COVID-19, we’ve all had to make some lifestyle changes. Businesses have had to adapt, too.
There are lots of precautions that businesses, organizations, and doctor’s offices have taken to ensure safety from the virus, but sometimes those precautions don’t include child protection behaviors or abuse prevention. One key element of prevention is minimizing opportunity for abuse by making sure one adult is never alone with a single child. That’s tricky to do when you’re trying to limit virus exposure.
One place this is difficult to do is at the doctor’s office. Medical providers have to be especially careful about limiting exposure, and so have adopted lots of unique safety measures to prevent the spread of germs. Most of them mean that if the appointment can’t take place via telehealth, your child or teenager may have to attend medical visits without you in the room.
Here are some ideas and best practices for both abuse prevention and virus safety at the doctor’s office:
• First off, make sure you understand what COVID-19 safety precautions your doctor is taking. Once you understand, you’ll be able to explain it to your child, who may be feeling anxious or unsure about these new policies. Make sure your child feels comfortable entering this “unknown territory.”
• One important aspect of COVID prevention is that providers minimize physical contact with others. Ask the provider about how they accomplish this, and to be very clear about the ways they do have to make contact.
• Clarify your expectations for body safety with both your doctor and your child. Ask the provider about their child protection policies and let them know that you’ll be following up with your child afterwards to talk about their experience. Make sure your child knows that they can come to you if anything feels uncomfortable, and that they don’t need to keep secrets.
• Have your child phone or video call you from the exam room. That way you can still be “present” in the room and get all the necessary information you need as their caretaker, without being physically available.
• Schedule simultaneous appointments for both you and your child at the same office. This way, you are in the general vicinity if your child needs you and can talk to their doctor easily afterwards.
At the end of the day, communication is key. Communicating expectations and boundaries will help put safeguards in place so the provider knows you’re paying attention to the welfare of your child. Keeping the lines of communication open during the appointment can be trickier now, but with a little innovation, you can be as present as possible.
These are just a few ways to ensure safety at the doctor’s office. For more tips and strategies to help you get creative with prevention, check out Darkness to Light’s free Protecting Children During a Crisis Training at D2L.org.
Anna Warner is the marketing content coordinator at Darkness to Light.