Tag Archives: Health professional

Thoughts on an abused child



I have had the amazing opportunity to work at Red Cross Children’s hospital. I’ve learnt some amazing things on child care, but also been so shocked that child abuse seems so common. So often I’ve seen a patient who is neglected, physically or emotionally abused and it breaks my heart.

Paediatrics is something I’m very passionate about, and I’ve been thinking of writing a poem related to child abuse and this ethics course has given me the opportunity to finally do so. The material I read through/used is attached below. I have used one my personal experiences I had with one of my patients.

Thoughts on child abuse:

There is a girl of just 8 years
with tear stains in her eyes
From the shame she can’t hide.
She says, “why doesn’t my mom love me?”
She says, “it’s all my fault”
I try to comfort her,
she whispers to my ear that she wishes I were her mom.
I suspect child abuse,
how I wish I didn’t.
I distract her by playing games;
Games to improve the way her body moves.
Is there more I could do?
I feel helpless sending this girl home
just to be abused again.
I have no proof to give,
If I did I could report it.
Nothing to offer but physical therapy
and the occasional emotional support.

I’m crippled by the fear
that I’ve messed up too badly.
How can my mom love me like this?
My left arm and leg are not working
My body no longer listens to me,
it just sits there, lifeless.
They told me I had a stroke
but why can’t I move?
How can I ever please her again?
I can’t even walk.
I can’t play with my brother.
She doesn’t love me
and it’s all my fault.
I wish this young lady could be my mom
She is the only one who visits me in hospital.
She understands.
She helps me.
I’m scared of the day I have to go home.
My mom hurts me but I won’t ever tell on her.
She would only hurt me more.

I love her
I don’t know how to show her.
I never wanted children
but it was forced upon me,
one dreadful day.
He refused to wear protection.
Why I go back to him every time
I’ll never understand.
I’m afraid I’ll shatter her innocence.
Life is tough,
I do not have a job.
I have three hungry mouths to feed.
The only way to earn
is by selling myself on the street.
Sometimes she makes me mad,
she always wants to play.
I hit her,
sometimes so hard she bleeds.
The word “sorry” never seems to escape my lips.
I speak words of hate
Because I had a bad day.
Nobody understands the pain I go through
just to give her some food.
What if she gets taken away?
Away because of me.
Maybe then she would be loved and cared for.

-Kristin Cameron


Berry L, Biersteker L, Dawes A, Lake L & Smith C. (2013).  South African Child Gauge 2013. Cape Town: Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town.

DHS. (2007). Physicians guide for reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. Retrieved at 11:00 on August 17, 2014 from http://chanceatchildhood.msu.edu/pub.html

Flaherty E, Sege R. (2005). Barriers to physician identification and reporting of child abuse. Paediatric Annals 34 (5): 349-356

DSD, DWCPD and UNICEF. (2012). Violence Against Children in South Africa. Pretoria: Department of Social Development/Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities/UNICEF.

Prato N, Morris L, Mazive E, Vahidnia F, Stehr M. (2006). Relationship between HIV risk perception and condom use: Evidence from a population based survey in Mozambique. International family planning perspectives, 32 (4): 192-200.

StatsSA. (2014). Work & Labour force. Retrieved at 10:00 on August 17, 2014 from http://beta2.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=737&id=1


What is religious freedom anyway?

I was struggling to get inspiration for a post then I remembered how I enjoy talking about religion and maybe I could think of something relating to that. I love watching Grey’s Anatomy and I remembered watching an episode about an ethical dilemma (of which there is no shortage of in the programme) which involved a strong religious view. I found it, and re-watched it, now finally I have my inspiration for this post 🙂 

The dilemma

In episode 13 of season 9, a teenage boy is rushed into the ER after sustaining serious injuries after getting hit by a car while skateboarding. The boy has some serious heart problems and is losing a lot of blood, he desperately needs a blood transfusion. The doctor orders a few units of blood and at that moment a tag falls out from the boy’s pocket, which says that he is a Johovah’s Witness, which changes everything. Johovah’s Witnesses cannot accept any form of blood transfusion, even in life-or-death situations. 

The doctor is forced to stop the blood from being administered, perform heart surgery without any extra blood and watch as she does everything she possibly can to save her patient before he passes away. An intern doctor felt horrified at this situation and tried acting against her orders by giving him blood, she was caught out just before it was connected to him. She could not understand how you could abide by a religious rule that she thought was not at the best interest of the patient. 

The patient soon passed away.

The problem was that the patient was a minor and his parents had to make the decision to not give him blood. The child could of had a different religious belief and if able to might of made a different decision. But the doctors had to trust that the parents included this into their decision-making process.  

Is religion really that important? 

We as medical professionals need to respect each and every view of our patient, including their religious beliefs, because that is what’s important to the patient. Even if it differs from our own beliefs. Religion is often a huge part of a patient’s identity and it is just as important as every other aspect of the patient’s life. It would be wrong not to respect it.

But should a religious rule control medical decisions, especially ones that are in conflict with ‘the best medical treatment for the patient’? Who even determines that? 

On the other hand

Being a doctor and having to make that decision must be so hard. It is (for some) going against your own morals, going against your innate tendency to do good for your patient. On the one hand you would be going against the patient’s right to the best medical treatment, but giving the patient treatment that is contrary to the their belief would not be giving the patient their right to autonomy. To go against something you believe in for the sake of remaining ethically correct is hard. Incredibly hard, impossible for some.

What is the solution?

There is no easy answer. In the end, you cannot break ethical code just to satisfy your own needs. Finding a solution should be personalised because we are all have different beliefs. Somewhere in the process we need to change our mindset that spirituality is important and needs to be taken into account. And sometimes we need to accept that we may not always know what is ‘best’ for our patients. 

I personally would find this really hard if I were in that ‘Grey’s’ situation, I would feel very conflicted. But it doesn’t come down to what I feel, it comes down to what is right for the patient and I must learn to accept that.