Doctor hopes to curb child abuse in Surinam
An insidious side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is a rise in child abuse.
A pediatrician in Surinam saw that child abuse was growing in his country, likely worsened by the pandemic and accompanying lockdown, and decided to do something about it.
Dr. Laurindo Kloof wants to give better psychological and social support to child abuse victims that he and his staff treat, along with their medical treatment. So, he will open a new Social Pediatric Unit in March at the largest hospital in Surinam.
“This would mean an improvement for the care of not only these children, but also help to achieve justice and help break the cycle of violence,” he said.
Kloof is a pediatrician at Academic Hospital Paramibo, which sees approximately 20,000 patients and 176,000 outpatients yearly. This hospital has the only emergency department in the country, Kloof said, and child abuse victims often are brought from there to his ward. Currently, he and his staff only provide medical care to them, but he also wants to treat the social networks surrounding these victims.
“If you want to bring along change in a generation, you really have to involve everyone,” Kloof said. “In our culture, it is very important that if you want change, you need to get everyone on board.”
The team will include a dedicated social worker, along with a psychologist, a pediatrician and two schoolteachers. They will provide development screens of child abuse victims, help parents to find jobs, and aid family coaching, among other assistance. Three doctors and four nurses also will be trained to identify common signs of physical abuse.
Kloof stated that he sees 200 victims annually, but that it is only a small fraction of children abused in his country. Surinam, a developing South American nation with a population of approximately 600,000, has an extremely high rate of child abuse, according to Kloof, with almost 40 percent of children affected.
“That means every year, 70,000 children are the victims of abuse,” Kloof said. “There is still a lot of stigma concerning child abuse. That is the reason we are teaming up with a lot of community centers to help raise the awareness. We really want to help more children who are in danger.”
Kloof noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on child abuse frequency. International studies have found child abuse rates have increased during the pandemic. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic lockdown in Surinam, Kloof said they have seen half the number of patients they normally see, but those child abuse victims they do see have very severe trauma. “This is a big problem,” Kloof said.
To that end, the doctors and nurses in the new unit are training to spot signs of child abuse through Evidentia Learning, which offers a collection of child abuse e-learning modules developed in partnership with internationally recognized child abuse pediatricians. The collection includes modules on the medical evaluation of child and teen sexual abuse and assault, child sex trafficking, pediatric strangulation and trauma-informed care. Physical abuse modules will be released shortly. Pediatricians, forensic nurses and other medical professionals can earn continuing education credits by studying these modules, which can be done individually or as a series.
“Evidentia Learning is a cause-based organization,” stated Mark Schregardus, co-founder and partner of Evidentia Learning. “In partnership with our highly experienced and respected experts we offer institutions from developing nations affordable access to the highest quality e-learning modules on a variety of topics in child maltreatment to support the educational needs of medical professionals and the vulnerable communities they serve.”
Kloof found the Evidentia Learning e-modules to be easy to understand, user friendly, and recommends them to other physicians and hospitals.
“I am amazed at the in-depth information provided in the e-learning modules,” he said. “This information is valuable, and I will do my best so the abused children in Surinam get the care they need.”
Learn more at www.evidentialearning.com, or on our Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages. Feel free to contact Mark Schregardus at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about access options for hospitals, medical centers, universities, statewide Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) programs and more.
By Laura A. Schmid