Thousands of families around the country rely on daycare centers to care for their children. Even school-aged kids attend before- and after-school care programs at such facilities. It is not uncommon for children to spend more time at the daycare centers than with their own families. Although most daycare centers have loving and caring staff, child abuse does occur.
Reports of child sexual abuse in daycare centers have been increasing over the past few decades. The sexual abuse has many forms, including touching and non-touching behaviors, and can have long-lasting effects on its victims and their families. The trauma of being violated by a trusted adult can affect a child for the rest of his or her life.
Here are a few red flags to look for that might indicate your child has been sexually abused:
- New or increased interest in sex, sexual behaviors, and genitalia
- Changes in behavior, such as increased temper tantrums, that are unusual for the child
- Trauma in the genital area or the development of a sexually transmitted disease
- Clothing that has been torn or that has blood stains
- Fear of certain places or adults
- The child may have a hard time standing, sitting, or walking
- A sudden increase in nightmares or night terrors
- Bedwetting or other regressive behaviors
All of these signs point to potential child abuse (although there can be other explanations as well). Sexual abusers who work in a daycare center have a special relationship with the children in their charge. The children see them as authority figures and trust them. This not only means that children will be more likely to do as they say; it also means children will be less likely to tell anyone about the abuse due to a sense of loyalty. They may also fear punishment of some sort if they tell anyone.
Although daycares are required to screen their employees, which includes running a thorough background check, many do not follow proper procedures. Additionally, some abusers have not yet been caught in order to have a record on file or, perhaps, they have not yet committed their first case of abuse. Daycare centers are also supposed to have security measures and policies in place to prevent abuse and reach children who are being abused. Even with such policies in place, abuse can still occur. Other daycares do not have proper measures at all.
An example of a valid policy is mandating that employees report suspected abuse. People who work with children are legally required to report reasonable suspicions of abuse. However, this relies on people to, first, notice the signs of abuse, and secondly, to actually follow through on making a report. Unfortunately, this is sometimes not done when the person is friends with the alleged abuser, or doesn’t believe they could do such a thing. Even daycares that follow the rules have to depend on their employees to do the same, and no system is guaranteed to catch an abuser.
If a daycare worker has sexually abused your child, seek immediate medial and legal help. Your child may have sustained physical injuries from the abuse that will need care. If the abuse just happened, the hospital may be able to collect evidence from your child’s body for the police. This means you do not want to bathe the child, brush his or her hair, or let the child change clothes before going to the hospital or police station. The hospital can also help prevent potential sexually transmitted diseases, and if the situation warrants it, prevent a potential pregnancy.
Sexual abuse victims are represented by the attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm on a contingent fee basis, which means that you pay no money upfront. Instead, our firm will cover all legal costs incurred until we secure full compensation for your claims and then deduct our fees from your settlement funds. The contingent fee is your guarantee that we believe your case has merit and that a settlement will be paid.