Amending the law to clarify doctors’ reporting requirements and protect them from criminal prosecution is one of the recommendations released in late March by the Independent Commission on Incest and Sexual Violence Against Children (Ciivise).
According to Ciivise, 160,000 children are victims of sexual violence every year, which prompts all professionals to identify them. However, according to the High Health Authority, doctors are only responsible for 5% of abuse reports.
dr Françoise Fericelli succeeded Côme (first name changed), a 6-year-old boy who “was in great mental pain”. The father came out of a psychiatric clinic after a suicide attempt. “He had cut his abdomen with a knife when he was alone with his children aged 3, 5 and 6,” She explains.
The child psychiatrist followed the child for several years and issued two opinions in 2016 and 2018. The father, a financier also convicted of domestic violence, filed a complaint with the Council of the Medical Association.
Before the Disciplinary Chamber of the Regional Council of the Order, “The father is heard for several hours and I have very little to say. A room occupied by four rather old men, none of whom are pediatricians or psychiatrists,” watching Dr. Fericelli. She will be punished with a warning.
A few days later, Côme’s brother committed suicide by hanging at the age of 10 after returning from vacation with his father. “Tongues were loosened at school: he had told friends what he was going through with his father: beatings, insults, repeated rapes,” dr Fericelli remembers.
“How can we protect children when we doctors are disavowed by our own professional code?”said this doctor, who was appealing his sanction.
Child psychiatrist Eugénie Izard has been banned from working for three months after she reported suspected abuse of an 8-year-old child. The State Council must decide on this sanction in the coming weeks.
“Doctors don’t dare to press charges for fear of reprisals”, says dr Izard who has spent hundreds of hours preparing his defenses. After the conviction of Dr. Fericelli and Izard formed a “Stop Violence Doctors” collective.
Civilization demands “legislate the code of ethics in favor of a reporting obligation” if there is suspicion of sexual violence and “Suspend Disciplinary Proceedings” against doctors “Protector”.
Two doctors, Dr. Catherine Bonnet and Dr. Jean-Louis Chabernaud, had started a petition.
“Some parents who acted aggressively filed a complaint against the reporting doctor”
The code of ethics for doctors gives paradoxical imperatives: it “must employ the most appropriate means of protecting (the person at risk) by showing circumspection and prudence”. In the case of a minor “He alerts the judicial or administrative authorities except in special circumstances, which he appreciates to the best of his knowledge and belief.”
“It is imperative that medical confidentiality protects the relationship between patient and doctor. But just as important, the protection of children is a clear legally recognized exception to medical confidentiality.” explains the co-president of Ciivise, Edouard Durand.
“The doctor is not a policeman. He reports and the judiciary investigates and protects the child”, explains this child judge.
The Order’s council declined to respond to AFP’s inquiries.
“Some parents of aggressors sue the reporting doctor. It is the aggressor turning against the protector, which is referred to as the risk of reprisals,” confirmed at the end of March the Vice President of the Order, Dr. Glaviano Ceccaldi.
Doctors are condemned for it “interference in family affairs”, “Certificates of Courtesy” From where “biased report” on the grounds that they had sided with a parent. Or because he wrote to the children’s judge instead of the prosecutor.
“If a child judge has already moved in to protect that child, a doctor needs to be able to convey information to him. The protection process must not be a path full of traps”, believes Judge Durand.