Lessons learned from case of Delaware pediatrician charged with molesting more than 100 patients
This is a story that would make anyone's skin crawl, not just a parent. A Delaware pediatrician, Dr. Earl Bradley, stands accused of sexually abusing more than 100 patients, some as young as 3 months old.
He is facing a 471-count indictment for his alleged actions. Investigators say they found videotapes he made of his victims -- five of whom appeared to pass out during the attacks, others who were screaming and begging to get out. All but one of the victims were girls.
Believe it or not, Bradley had been investigated before on charges of inappropriate behavior -- twice, in 2002 and 2005. Even though some parents, colleagues and even one of his relatives suspected he was harming his patients, no charges were ever filed and no one complained to the Delaware Board of Medical Practice, according to this report.
What makes this story so sickening is not just the number of victims and the videotaped evidence. It's that he was a doctor, the person we trust to help us keep our children well.
Out of this horrifying situation, we can learn a few lessons:
Never leave your child alone with the doctor. If a doctor asks to be alone with your child, that could be a warning sign. Our pediatrician, when doing exams, always has us stay in the room. During the exam she tells our kids something like: "I am going to touch your private parts. But I can't do it unless your mom or dad is here and no one else should touch you there." Every doctor who has any sense should follow the same procedure. If yours won't, it's time to find another pediatrician.
Listen to your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't right. Don't ever push aside your feelings if something makes you uncomfortable. And if you have friends to talk to about the situation, compare notes. You may think you are alone in dealing with something and find out that others feel the same way. Some of those parents and colleagues in Delaware are going to suffer a horrific load of guilt for not doing more about their suspicions.
Talk to your kids. After reading the stories out of Delaware, I took a few minutes to reiterate to my kids that no one -- not an adult, not a friend, no one -- should be touching them in that private place. And I told them that if someone did or said something that made them uncomfortable, please tell me or my husband. I told them they can always talk to me.
One last thought: I pray that the kids in Delaware find someone to talk to as well, because it will be a long time before any of them will begin to heal from whatever treatment this doctor gave them.
[AP photo of Dr. Earl Bradley]