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O Pioneers!

September 1, 2005 --Today The Korea Times ran a generally good piece by Chung Ah-young headlined "Two Forensic Nurses Work to Help Sex Assault Victims." The report explains that 33-year-old nurses Youk Gi-young and Lee Kyung-a, the first forensic nurses in Korea, have begun to care for the victims of sexual assault and gather key evidence for the prosecution of perpetrators.

The piece reports that Youk and Lee, both experienced nurses, were among five recent graduates of a "forensic nursing course at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine." The piece suggests that the program also graduated police officers and teachers, though it does not explain why those other professionals would be in a "nursing" course, nor give details about who taught the course at the "School of Medicine." Elsewhere, the piece suggests that the program was conducted by a "department of forensic nursing." In any case, since June, the two nurses have reportedly worked at the Sunflower Children Center, a sexual violence victim protection center in Taegu. The piece reports that forensic nurses "treat the patients, including the victims of sexual assault, child and spousal abuse, and unexplained or accidental death or trauma." It quotes Youk as saying that she is there to "help victims feel secure after trauma," to "collect physical evidence from sex offenders," and to "conduct a scientific investigation for evidence." Lee stresses the importance of such physical evidence in sexual assault cases, in which there is often no witness beyond the victim and the offender. At the Center, which "opened in June in cooperation with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family," the nurses will reportedly gather evidence from victims and their clothing "without a police officer in attendance." Commendably, the piece reports that Lee "said that there is a lot to be desired in the forensic nursing field as the victims of sexual violence still remain reluctant to get help" from the Center. Lee also expresses interest in further study in the United States, which she says has "a well-established forensic nursing certificate program."

The piece gives a good basic picture of what forensic nurses do and why it is so important. It might have explained more about the nature of the training program, why non-nurses were in the program, and what those professionals are doing with their training. It might also have described the physical care forensic nurses can provide to victims, and included comment from the criminal justice professionals with whom the nurses will work. Even so, we commend Chung Ah-young and the Korea Times for the timely report on this important topic.

See the article "Two Forensic Nurses Work to Help Sex Assault Victims" in the September 1, 2005 edition of the Korea Times.

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