Imagine the Department of Social Services has just threatened to remove your child unless you agree to have their urine collected. Under duress, you consent – only to watch the hospital staff hold your three year old son down and forcibly catheterize him while he screamed in pain.

When we were contacted by a mother who told us about her experience, we were concerned. Forcibly catheterizing anyone – let alone a three year old child – is barbaric at worst, and an unconstitutional practice at best. 

"In order to gather information to charge his parents, the DSS subjected a vulnerable child to trauma and injury by forcible catheterization." said Heather Smith, Executive Director. "Quite frankly, it’s cruel and barbaric to forcibly catheterize anyone, let alone a three year old child, and this process raises serious constitutional concerns. Specifically, the process runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure where there are other less intrusive means available to gather the information. Any child, let alone those suspected of being victims of abuse or neglect should not be subjected to the additional trauma, indignity, and abuse of catheterization."

We wrote to DSS to demand that they stop catheterizing children and provide an explanation as to why this search was conducted, why the catheterization was permitted, and who made the decision to have this child tested. Further, we have asked the DSS to release their written policies regarding searches of children and catheterization.

Download a PDF of our letter to the Department of Social Services below.

Read more here: Hooded, handcuffed, and 'violated': South Dakota's use of forced catheterization, by Mark Walker, Argus Leader