“Earlier research has shown that only three percent of the children who are exposed to violence and sexual assault are detected in the healthcare system. That’s pretty worrying.
Because who else apart from healthcare professionals and, in particular, general practitioners with access to examine the child's skin for bruises, should be able to detect violence?”
It can be difficult to comprehend violence against children and child abuse. Fortunately, researchers like Lise Frost, born in 1976 and medical specialist in forensic medicine, work to generate and disseminate knowledge about the children who are subjected to abuse. Specifically in the form of a book (written in Danish) entitled: 'Suspicion of child abuse. A handbook for general practice’. The book and the associated teaching material is aimed at medical doctors.
“Earlier research has shown that only three percent of the children who are exposed to violence and sexual assault are detected in the healthcare system. That’s pretty worrying. Because who else apart from healthcare professionals and, in particular, general practitioners with access to examine the child's skin for bruises, should be able to detect violence? My most important message is that we should dare to see, hear and not least act on suspicion of a child being subjected to abuse. There are many specialists in multiple professional groups who support the process if suspicion is aroused.”
As a forensic pathologist, Lise Frost has always been interested in physical examinations, particularly of children in criminal cases. The work is systematic. All injuries are documented, trace evidence is secured and tests administered for potential sexually transmitted diseases. Finally, a statement is written for use in court.
"But no two examinations are the same, and each time I learn something new that I can take with me for future use. I have special focus on lesion patterns and trauma mechanisms, and in the courtroom I’m often confronted with questions from the defence and public prosecutor along the lines of:
These are questions that have helped Lise Frost develop her research into the anatomy of the hymen and the histological structure and lesions that occur in connection with sexual intercourse, enabling her to e.g. explain resilience and lesions – or the lack of lesions – after sexual assaults on children.
"It is meaningful knowledge which, when gathered together and disseminated, can help to prevent children from being subjected to violence. A child whose body and soul are scared and damaged fairs worse at school and socially compared with their peers. For me, the most important thing is not that the perpetrator is punished, but rather that the abuse of the child ends. For this reason, my focus has always been on detecting the children who are subjected to abuse. That’s the goal of my research."
In 2016, Lise Frost and her research group received DKK 1,167,624 from The Council of the Danish Victims Fund.