[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
January 27, 1989

Harmful Genital Care Practices in Children: A Type of Child Abuse

JAMA. 1989;261(4):577-579. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420040115030

Little attention has been paid in the literature to children's genital hygiene in recent years. We describe harmful genital care practices that produce physical and/or psychoemotional abnormalities in children. These practices comprise unusual and ritualistic handling and inspection of the child's genitals. Abnormalities produced include chronic and varied somatic complaints and behavioral anomalies, changes in genital anatomy, unnecessary medical diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, and, sometimes, overt sexual abuse. The practices need to be recognized as harmful to children, and effective intervention must be sought.

(JAMA 1989;261:577-579)