Bodily Autonomy Needs To Be Respected At The Doctor's Office Too
I visited the pediatrician’s office with my five-year-old on Friday to get his flu shot. Once we were in the patient room, a new nurse came in to administer the shot. She asked him to sit on the table, and I picked him up and put him there.
At this point, he started crying and was upset about getting a shot. While I was trying to talk to him and calm him down, the nurse started pulling down his pants. Since he was seated, this wasn’t an easy process. I noticed what was going on and, in my shock, told her that I thought he was getting the shot in his arm. She informed me that the shot would be in his leg and continued what she was doing.
Just to be clear: I had a hysterical 5-year-old who was having his pants forced down by a stranger.
He’s old enough to have control over his own body. He’s old enough to deserve an explanation. He’s old enough to have been asked if he could pull his own pants down. If he didn’t comply, I should have been asked to do it as the parent.
Any other time my child has had to pull his pants down or show his penis to a healthcare provider, the provider has taken the time to ask him to do it himself, given an explanation of what is happening, and let him know that it’s only okay because they are a doctor and his mom is in the room.
I have no doubt that the nurse was simply trying to do her job and didn’t have any malicious intentions. But.
I’ve spent five years teaching my child about appropriate body expectations, control and abuse. I’ve known child sexual predators, and the only thing I can do to protect my child is education. What happened Friday was against everything I’ve taught. What’s worse is that I was an active participant. I’ve been sick over it all weekend.
Instead of posting a social media rant or reaching out to management, I stopped by the office on Monday to speak with the nurse privately. My goal was to educate, not reprimand. In her ignorance, she did not understand that anything wrong had happened and stated that “it’s the way they’ve always done it.” I had every intention of keeping this event private, but I can’t let this go unaddressed.
It needs to stop.
Tell the children what’s happening. Ask them to pull their own pants down. Ask the parents to do it. Wait on them to do it, and don’t force their clothes off unless you are asked to do so.
I hope every healthcare provider takes this as an opportunity to change “how they’ve always done it.”
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