Three recent cases of pediatricians and child porn have us concerned.
A couple remodeling their basement in West Hartford, Conn. uncovered 50,000 slides and 100 8-mm films of naked children. They allegedly belonged to previous homeowner Dr. George Reardon, who died in 1998. Dr. Reardon was formerly an endocrinologist specializing in childhood sexual development. In 1995, he agreed to give up his license to practice after numerous complaints that he abused and photographed children.
Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated incident. Last month, Ohio pediatrician Dr. Robert V. Reinhold was charged with child pornography after more than 1,700 images of minors in various stages of undress were found in his desk. In February, Dr. Jacques Lemire, a San Diego pediatrician, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography.
Should we leave our kids alone with their pediatrician? Pediatrician and friend of Mom•Logic Dr. Gwenn says kids under 16 are typically accompanied in the exam room by a parent. If your teen feels uncomfortable with you in the room during the physical exam, you can always step out for that portion. If you are uncomfortable leaving your teen alone with the doctor, Dr. Gwenn says you can request that a nurse be present in the exam room in your absence. Dr. Gwenn also says a doctor should never take photos of your child without your knowledge or permission. "Occasionally, I'll ask a patient's parent if I can take a picture of a rare rash, for instance, but I always have the parents sign a photo release and ask them to be present while I photograph the child," she says. "Photos taken behind closed doors without a release form signal that something is just not right here."
Most pediatricians are nice and normal and trustworthy. Thankfully, cases like these are very rare...but they do happen. If your gut is telling you something's not right, ask questions. Remember: You are your child's number-one advocate.