Guidelines for questioning pediatric abuse victims, if needed

Question the adult separately; be child friendly; get lower than the child.

Why did you come to the ER today?

A. Discloses:

• Tell me about that.

• What happened?

• Who did that?

• What did _____ touch (hurt, tickle, owie—use child’s own words) you with?

• What do you call that part of your body?

• Where were your clothes when this happened?

• When did this happen? (Time frames are difficult for children.)

• Did anything get on you from their body?

• When was your last bath/shower?

• When did you urinate/pee, have BM/poop last?

• When did you last eat or drink something?

• What method of birth control, if sexually active?

• Date of last menstrual period—if pubescent.

B. Doesn't Disclose:

• Would it be okay for you to tell me how come you are here?

• What would happen if you did/didn't tell me why you are here?

• Would someone be in trouble if you told me why you are here?

• I need to know why you are here so I can take care of you.

Guidelines for questioning acute/chronic physical abuse victims


• What happened?

• Where did this happen?

• Who was there?

• Have you ever been to an emergency room or minor center before?

• Have you ever broken a bone, had stitches, taken medication you shouldn’t have, etc., before?


• Is injury consistent with history?

• Assessment of caretaker (uncooperative, angry)

• Caretaker’s interaction with the child or other children (impatient, angry with child, excessive or inappropriate affection).

Source: St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Boise, ID