Child Abuse

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    Do any of you peds nurses see abused children? If so, how do you leave it at work? How do you deal with the anger you might feel and the injustice of it?
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  4. 3
    =/

    Normally, on our ten bed hallway, at least one child is obviously the victim of abuse or neglect. About a third of the time, they are hospitalized because of abuse or neglect... so my chances of having a kid who is in for abuse are probably 10%. When I staff on the floor, we have a 5 patient assignment - and some days we discharge 3-4.

    And as far as how you deal with it - that's a tough question to answer. You watch kids almost killed then sent back to the home where it happened. That's reality. You see girls raped and moms still defending the rapist. Gosh - you see all kinds of things.

    But that's what we do, right? We witness those things - because that really is what happens in this world. And I go home hoping that for my 13 hours, that child knew that I loved them and cared for them the best that I could. I chart my @ss off if there is any chance it may help in court. I advocate to CPS and the cops and social work until I'm blue in the face. And I hope that maybe, just maybe it makes a tiny bit of difference.

    It's always the worst when they are close in age to my kids or they remind me of mine. Or I really identify with the parents somehow. It's hard to keep distance. I've called in sick once because I just couldn't face my assignment - but I regret it because that kid faces worse than I've ever had to. I signed on for this - he didn't - and I wimped out. I wish I had done better. I hope I can the next time.

    But my favorite nurse told me that not everyone is meant to live a long life. Not everyone is meant to live a happy life. And she just has to believe that there is a God with a purpose because otherwise she just couldn't keep going into rooms.

    As far as leaving it at work - ya got me there. I get better at it every year. But I don't know anyone who is able to completely leave it at work. Peds is a unique place - and child abuse is a terrible heart breaker. But the rewards are rich.
    Moss1222, jennab33, and yarncrogirl like this.
  5. 0
    I work in geriatrics and I also see some form of neglect from the residents families. Some of my residents haven't had a visitor in years. We had a guy pass away the other night, he had no family listed in his contacts. All he had was a guardian. So I know what you mean, sometimes you do take it home. At least I do.
    Becuase of nurses like you those children had somebody to care and love them for a little while anyway.
  6. 0
    You see abuse...and it is horrible. I can never understand it...especially shaken baby.

    You give the kids the TLC they need while you are there. You then go home and hug your kids. All that you do is the best that you can.
  7. 0
    One also sees a lot of child abuse (but more of the chronic, overall effects rather than acute injuries) in child psychiatric treatment settings (both inpt and outpt).
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    I work in a peds hospital on a trauma unit and see non-accidental traumas. I have learned to take a step back and separate myself from feelings of anger and resentment. I focus on the child and helping them get better rather than focus on all the negative things that brought the kid in. Sometimes it is hard to leave the emotions at work. it's OK to cry in the breakroom or in your car on the way home. I think we have all done it. The biggest piece of advice is to focus on the child and help them get better, shedding a positive light on the entire ordeal.
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    I worked child and adolescent psych for a number of years. DH and I were also foster parents. One day when I got discouraged about the seeming futility of it all, an older, wiser foster parent said, "Don't think about doing big dramatic things like saving lives. Think about planting seeds."

    Many adults who grew up in chaotic, abusive or neglectful homes can tell you about someone who lit a candle in their darkness. It may have been a teacher, a neighbor, a family member, or a nurse. Even brief contact can make a lasting impression if it's kind and gentle.

    Planting a seed of kindness can give a child hope, a flash of insight that there are good things in life. Yes, it's heartbreaking at times to send a kid back to the messed-up home that produced them in the first place, but better to send them back with a bit of caring tucked away.

    And, too, remember that the abusers probably looked like this kid twenty years ago. For all the bad they have done, there's at least a chance that trying to connect with the child inside the adult can have good effects. Some abusers are hardened and cold, but many are just lonely and scared and very short on resources. They are used to being judged and hated. Kindness can catch them off guard and open the door a bit.
    This isn't easy to do, but it helps if you can separate the people from the actions.

    Plant seeds of caring and kindness in the child's life. Try to connect with the parents. Model nurturing for those adults who may not have had much in their own lives. Believe that seeds eventually grow and bear fruit. If you're of the praying persuasion, ask God to bless each little one and family that comes your way. And while you're at it, ask him to supply his love for the unlovable and his strength for the tough job you do. Finally, as hard as is may be, leave the job at work. During your time off, fill the well with good things and enriching experiences. Enjoy your own family, and make sure you take care of yourself physically. Then you'll be ready to go back and plant some more seeds.


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