Frequently Asked Questions About Daycare Abuse

You might read about daycare abuse in Texas newspapers, but you might know less about daycare neglect. Unfortunately, although daycare neglect gets less press, it is still a dangerous problem in Dallas childcare centers. Here are signs of daycare neglect:

  • Your child is unusually hungry or thirsty upon arriving home from daycare.
  • Your daycare discourages drop-in visits from parents.
  • Your daycare has a very small staff.
  • Your child often comes home from daycare very dirty or with a dirty diaper.
  • Your child has unexplained bruises or injuries.
  • Your child suddenly begins to act out or display aggressive behavior.
  • Your child suddenly withdraws.

Sexual daycare abuse can be absolutely devastating – and in many cases, parents ask themselves why they didn’t know that there was a problem sooner. Children are often too young to tell their parents about sexual abuse, or else they have been threatened by their abuser not to tell. Be sure to look out for the red flags of daycare sexual abuse:

  • Your child suddenly becomes withdrawn.
  • Your child’s behavior regresses to infant-like actions, such as clinging.
  • Your child begins displaying inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Your child shows an unusual interest in sexual topics.
  • Your child shows abnormal sexual knowledge.
  • Your child becomes inordinately fearful of certain people or places.
  • Your child becomes anxious about attending daycare.
  • Your child displays sleep disturbances and nightmares.

In far too many cases, physical daycare abuse goes unchecked in Texas because children are not able to tell their parents what is happening to them. Because young children often do not have the ability or understanding to report daycare abuse, it is all the more important for parents to look for the signs of physical daycare abuse:

  • Your child flinches when you raise an arm.
  • Your child experiences sleep disturbances.
  • Your child has unexplained bruises or other injuries.
  • Your child suddenly becomes withdrawn.
  • Your child suddenly changes behavior or becomes aggressive.
  • Your child voices excessive fear of going to daycare.
  • Your child’s behavior regresses – they become very clingy.

Emotional and verbal abuse over an extended period of time can lead to very serious and long-term psychological trauma. Some behavioral indicators of daycare emotional abuse include:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Habit disorders (such as rocking or head-banging)
  • Age-inappropriate behaviors (such as wetting or soiling)
  • Behavioral extremes (listless one moment and overly aggressive the next)

Some physical indicators of emotional abuse could include a developmental disorders, significant change in weight, and nervous disorders.

Most children who attend daycare are too young to fully understand daycare abuse – and also too young to learn about it generally. The best way to educate your child about daycare abuse is to simply make sure that they know their boundaries and know that they should tell an authority figure about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Before your children go to daycare, make sure your young children understand that:

  • They should tell their parents about anything that happens that makes them feel uncomfortable, strange, or anxious – there is no need to feel guilty or embarrassed and they won’t get in trouble.
  • They should never let anyone touch them in their private areas, and they should feel comfortable saying “no” to anyone making them feel violated – even adults.

It can be very frightening to accuse someone of daycare abuse, especially if you cannot often be certain that it has taken place. But if you even suspect that your child is suffering from abuse at their daycare facility, there are two important steps to take:

  • Visit your pediatrician. A doctor, especially one that is familiar with your child, may be able to spot signs of abuse that you missed and give you more information about the situation and the next step.
  • Report the abuse. We’ve provided information here on how to report daycare abuse in all 50 states. This will usually lead to a state investigation into the childcare facility or daycare center.

Much of the sexual and physical abuse and exploitation associated with daycare centers occurs at the hands of individuals not directly involved in teaching or child-care responsibilities: bus drivers, janitors, and relatives of the daycare center providers. In 36 percent of the cases examined by a nationwide study of daycare abuse, children were sexually molested by family members related to the daycare provider.

In cases of neglect, many times there can be child to child injuries where supervision or staffing was not adequate.

In such a serious situation it is always a good idea to consult with someone who has experience in handling these situations and can advise you of the best course of action. It is best to seek out a knowledgeable attorney as soon as you become aware of the incident so that you do not run the risk of going beyond a time limit for taking action.

Ensuring that all workers at a prospective daycare have had criminal record checks and fingerprinting done is a good first step. In addition, parents should ask about any non-daycare workers that may be visiting the daycare and meet not just the administrators but the teachers, workers and anyone that will be having day-to-day interaction with your child. Double-check that the daycare is licensed with your Children and Family Services Office and that there is an adequate staff to child ratio are also essential steps.

Some apparent signs of possible abuse or neglect to be aware of are physical injuries such as bruises, broken bones, abrasions, burns, etc.

Among the less evident indicators are sudden changes in a child’s behavior; a normally quiet and calm child may begin to lash out or a usually lively child can become withdrawn.

A child who abruptly begins to put up a struggle about going to daycare is also a cause for concern and should be investigated.

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