What to do in case of child abuse? – Honduras (IFMSA-Honduras)

Name of the activity: What to do in case of child abuse?

Country/NMO: Honduras (IFMSA-Honduras)

Program: Children Health & Rights


Contact information: [email protected]

Type of the activity: Capacity Building (Training or Workshop)


General description:

This activity is a workshop facilitated by a pediatrician, a psycologist and a lawyer. The main objective is to teach the tools to the medical, nursing and psycology students and professionals to correctly address a situation of child abuse. It will be evaluated trought a Google Survey.

Focus area:

Children’s mental health, Children’s rights, Children’s rights with emphasis on non-violence

Problem statement:

Child abuse has always been a problem known worldwide and it tends to affect the lives of those abused and their loved ones. In 2016 a local newspaper reported 964 complaints of child abuse from which only about 15% of them where prosecuted. Later up until February 2017 about 210 complaints were reported. The report also said that the amount of complaints is not even close to the actual number of children suffering of abuse throughout the year, this due to the fear of the victim of speaking out, fear and shame of family members to speak out and the lack of knowledge in health professionals as in what to do in given situations.
As medical students we might encounter with a patient that we suspect has been suffering some kind of abuse, but due to the lack of knowledge of the law and how to confront or treat a patient without causing any more harm or interfering with any investigations regarding to that specific situation not much is done and many cases are left in the dark. For example, health professionals that have kids as patients that come in with the family member or adult that might be or not the abuser don’t know or are not sure how to proceed with the doctor – patient interaction without giving away their suspicions or interfering with what later might become a legal case.
This also happens in child group homes and orphanages, where many children that come from abusive homes or from poor living conditions are taken care of. It is true that most of the people that work in these types of places have knowledge about the law, the do’s and don’ts but sometimes little details that might help them identify kids that have been abused go unnoticed; this applies to the volunteers of these group homes and orphanages that most of the time they don’t have any formation regarding these topics.
Regarding family members of the victim, since in our country its still considered a taboo and there is a constant victim blaming and shaming it is hard for them reach out and accept the help being offered. Which makes it hard for everyone to fight child abuse, reason why psychological advise and training must be given out to the victims and their family members.
Due to these factors, we decided to make a workshop, in which we would receive medical, legal and psychological advice regarding the topic. The workshop broken down to three sections each addressing how far we should go as a health professional, legal advisor and as a child protection service employee, would help us understand when to draw the line and how to proceed in given situations, who to call and what step is next to follow.
By giving access to medical, nursing, psychology students, health professionals and child protection services employees we learned how much of this topic is still a taboo and how much fear there is in our society to talk about this kind of controversial topics. But we also learned that there is so much work that needs to be done knowing that an abuse has a lifelong effect on a human being’s life if it’s not addressed and that many more health professionals including child protection service employees throughout the country don’t know or don’t have access to this specific type of information regarding the topic.
By doing this workshop we got to understand the constant challenges of child abuse and why it is so hard to identify and do something about it. Yes, it is true that in order to educate and reach a countrywide education about child abuse will be hard and will take time, but this workshop was the beginning and it proved us that with the right knowledge and materials, awareness and actions can be done.

Target groups and beneficiaries:

The target group for this workshop are all who have contact with pediatric patients, this would include medical, nursing and psychology professionals; all being directly impacted by the way each topic was being developed and how it can be apply to their everyday duties.
Medical and nursing students and professionals would learn what signs to look out for and in case they find them, they are prepared with the steps to follow regarding the situation.
Psychology professionals are by far the most prepared to confront these topics, but by learning more about the legal implications and medical signs they will have more knowledge to treat and help the victims and family members.
The child services employees usually are prepared to confront children victims of abuse, but they might have lack of knowledge in certain areas, and by giving them access to this workshop they would know what actions to take and help the kids.
As for the children and their families, are the beneficiaries, once a victim is reached by any member of the previously mentioned target groups it will become possible for them to be identified, helped and protected the way they should. The family members will receive the education and help needed as well as fully understanding that there is nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.

Objectives and indicators of success:

The workshop “What do you have to do in the case of a child abuse?” seeks to:
Give the tools to health professionals and even the families of affected children, to act intelligently and effectively in these situations.

To indicate which institutions or organizations are the best choice for seeking help.

To provide comprehensive information on the subject, beneficial to the health professional, since it covers the psychological, pediatric and legal factor because it includes the public ministry. In this way, the problem of child abuse is to be able to spread the message to a large number of people. Both health professionals and family members.
The workshop will be disseminated to orphaned children’s centers (Enmanuel’s Children Home and Amor y Vida) to the caregivers and to the children. We also hope that the children of the centers where the workshop is conducted will be able to talk about the issue if they ever suffer abuse. And in one way or another prevent abuse.


The methodology used in this activity is threefold, because of the dynamic nature of the activity since it has several phases. The first phase consists of us as a committee receiving a personalized capacitation from a pediatrician and a psycologist in the form of short presentations involving their self-personal experiences with the topic and later a time for questions and answers. The second phase consist of a panel of experts including a pediatrician, a lawyer, and a ps,ycologist that will approach the same topic from different perspectives; including a time for questions and answers. The entrance for this part of the activity is for anybody that buys a ticket for it. The third phase consists of us, as a SCORA committee, going to 2 foster home institutions (one is just home for HIV infected children) and give a capacitation for all the workers in the institutions and make some entertaining dynamics with the children to teach them about abuse, how to prevent it and how to denunciate in case it takes place.
The timeline was initially planned for a two months period, but because some instabilities in our university and in our country, we have not been able to complete every phase. The first phase is the only one finished since we received the capacitation in the middle of this year. The second phase has everything ready, we just need the situation in our country to stabilize so we can go forth with it; our intention is to have it done by late January or early February. The third phase is planned to be done a week following the completion of phase two

Plans for evaluation:

We plan on sending an email to every person that told us is assisting to the conference “What to do in case of the abuse of a child?” with a google form survey to ask some questions referring to their actual knowledge of this theme. Specific questions have not been chosen, but some of them are: What you think you should do in case you have the suspicion one of your little patients have been abused? What is the legal process you should follow in order to report the case? What should you do if the parents don’t want you to report the case? How you should talk to the child? Should you make direct questions about the possible abuse to the child? How you think you can help prevent children’s abuse in your environment?. And of course sending them this same survey (maybe with some other questions) to the assistants to know how this workshop have influence in them

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