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O.C. nurse speaks out on teen "drug rapes"

May 27, 2004 -- In a letter to the editor published in today's Los Angeles Times, Orange County registered nurse Susan Wong gave a powerful account of the victims of "drug rapes" she has seen in her work in outpatient care. Her letter, written in response to the paper's coverage of a local gang rape trial, is a good example of patient advocacy that also advances the nursing profession by showing that nurses are responsible professionals who can think and speak out on behalf of their patients and the public good.

Ms. Wong writes that she and her colleagues see many teenage girls who wake up feeling "sore down there" after having drunk something, often what they thought was water, that made them feel very drunk or unconscious. These victims often know the "guys" involved, are very "embarrassed," do not want their parents to know, and are "horrified" at the idea of reporting the crime. Wong concludes by stressing that "[a]s mandated reporters of sexual assault, we do notify the police, but most often too much time has passed to collect evidence and the girl is so uncertain and unwilling to get anyone in trouble that the boys get away with it. Over and over again."

The Center encourages all nurses to write letters to the editor, op-ed's, do health minutes for their local or national radio or television shows, and write patient education guides, books and web sites. We need nurses to take the step of speaking out to the public about health issues on which you are uniquely qualified. Don't wait for a publication to seek you out--please create something and circulate it for publication. See From Silence to Voice for more in-depth guidance. Patient education is a role for which nurses are specifically trained and qualified. It is imperative that nurses not limit this role to a one-on-one nurse-patient interaction, but that they take this role to a public health educational level to advance the nursing profession and public health. See our nurse-driven media section where we catalog media created by nurses. And please send us your entry so that we can add it to our pages.

See Susan Wong's letter "Teen Girls Often Won't Report 'Drug Rapes'" in the May 27, 2004 edition of the Los Angeles Times.



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