Child care or daycare centers are a necessary part of everyday life for many American parents. Working parents need to have safe and reliable child supervision while they work, and daycare centers exist to provide safe environments for the children of working parents during the day. While the vast majority of child care or daycare center staff are well-meaning and provide fantastic service, some unfortunately use their position to sexually abuse the children they are supposed to protect and supervise.
Parents of victimized children need to know where to turn for help should they discover daycare or child care sexual abuse. It’s vital to recognize the warning signs that a child has suffered sexual abuse and to know what to do and who to contact in such an event. The team at Estey & Bomberger, LLP has extensive experience representing daycare molestation. Contact our child care and daycare sexual abuse lawyer if you wish to discuss a case or schedule a consultation.
Childhood sex abuse is a prevalent and persistent problem in our society. Studies by the CDC and the Department of Justice reveal that one out of four girls and one out of six boys will experience some form of childhood sex abuse, unwanted sexual attention, harassment, or stalking by the time they reach the age of 18. There have been few child sex abuse studies related directly to daycare center sex abuse, but experts concur: your child is at risk of being abused by adults or even other adolescent children at any age. If your child or someone else’s has experienced sexual abuse in a daycare center, get in touch with our experienced attorneys for a free and confidential consultation.
While children are far more likely to be victimized by a predator in a private setting—such as the home—sexual abuse at daycare does sometimes occur. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just adults who perpetrate sex crimes against daycare children or children in child care. Other children are just as capable of abusing their fellows.
Sexual Abuse at Daycare or in Childcare
It’s a common assumption that sexual molestation happens when the victim and the perpetrator are all alone, but that’s not the case. Sexual abuse may even take place when there are other children or even daycare supervisors nearby.
Predators often practice grooming behavior to assure their victims’ compliance. A pedophile must first earn the child’s trust, so they pay special attention to him or her, giving compliments, praise, or treats. They may also act as a confidant, fooling the victim into thinking the molester is a trustworthy and empathetic person. In this way, the pedophile isolates the victim from others. At the same time, a predator might attempt to guilt the child into thinking that they are somehow an accomplice to the crime, and that they dare not confess or they will face disciplinary consequences. A victim may be terrified of revealing the truth out of guilt, shame, or fear.
In California, the Child Care Licensing Program was created to certify and supervise California daycare and child care centers. The CCLP’s stated mission is to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of adolescents who are placed in daycare on a regular basis. The CCLP is legally required to prevent abuse from taking place, protect children from child care sexual abuse, and ensure that children are receiving the highest standard of care. It accomplishes this directive by ensuring that Californian child care facilities are licensed and meet all pertinent safety and health codes. The CCLP also provides technical assistance, inspects and monitors child care facilities, and liaises with the child care community as a whole via its 13 state offices. For questions about licensing, you may contact the local office or the Child Care Advocate Program. Our child care sexual abuse lawyers are experienced in these emotionally charged and difficult cases of abuse.
Warning Signs a Child Has Been Molested at Daycare or By a Babysitter
The first step in stopping child care or daycare sexual abuse is identifying the signs. Children very rarely lie about sexual molestation, so if your child reports anything like that to you, it is imperative that you take it seriously and let him or her know that what happened is not his or her fault. However, it’s important to note that most child abusers groom or intimidate their victims to reduce their risk of getting caught, and will continue their behaviors until they are. If your child’s abuser scared or threatened him or her, your child may not be very forthcoming in telling you about the abuse.
Here are a few warning signs of daycare molestation:
- child suddenly does not want to go to daycare or seems afraid
- child starts saying sexually mature words or acting out sex acts as play
- child develops sudden severe mood swings
- shows signs they are afraid of their babysitter or a certain person at daycare (an adult or another child)
When children are too scared to come forward or don’t realize what has happened to them, it’s important that parents know the warning signs of daycare molestation. Younger children may not realize that what happened was wrong, and may start associating sexual concepts with play. If your child displays a sudden interest in things of a sexual nature, or seems to mimic abusive behaviors, take these displays seriously. Mood swings are a very common reaction when a child cannot make sense of his or her situation.
When abusers intimidate their victims, children can become withdrawn, depressed, or even aggressive. It’s important to let your child know you care about them, and are paying attention to whether or not they are suffering abuse. If your child seems scared or hesitant to go to daycare on a consistent basis, this could be a sign he or she is scared of an employee at the daycare. Abused children may also experience nightmares or have difficulty sleeping.
It’s important to be vigilant for the warning signs of child sex abuse in your child. They are difficult to spot, but with training and forewarning, you may be able to see the red flags. The tricky thing is that there is no “typical” case of child molestation, and no “typical” predators. Each case is unique, each predator has a personal approach to molestation, and each child is affected by their ordeal differently. There is hardly ever a behavioral “smoking gun” to let you know immediately that your child has been molested. If you suspect your child has been molested at daycare, the child care and daycare sexual abuse attorneys of Estey & Bomberger can help hold the responsible parties accountable, bringing healing to victims and preventing future abuse.
It’s important to be aware that, if your child demonstrates the above symptoms, sex abuse is not the only possible cause. Puberty, depression, psychological disorders, and other factors may influence your child behavior in similar ways. Trust your gut. If you believe your child is being sexually abused, report it to the authorities immediately.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Been Molested at a Daycare Center
Learning your child has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the people charged with caring for him or her is heartbreaking and infuriating. Despite the anger you may feel, it is imperative to keep a level head. Attempting to confront the abuser personally could impede a future lawsuit, and may even put you or your child at grave risk. Upon discovering daycare molestation, contact the police immediately and make sure your child knows he or she is safe. Your next step should be to speak with a daycare center molestation lawyer.
How Can a Child Molestation Lawyer Help?
The lawyers at Estey & Bomberger have an extensive experience defending the rights of victims of abuse. Daycare centers should be safe establishments that parents can depend upon to provide reliable child care, and when they violate their duties, they need to pay for the damage they cause. Reach out to one of our child care molestation lawyers to schedule a consultation about your case today.