Parents rely on daycare facilities to look after their children. Tragically, daycare workers frequently abuse children, causing significant injury and sometimes even death. As terrifying as this is, parents often don’t know where to turn when their trust has been violated. Daycare child abuse is unacceptable, and the personal injury attorneys of Hale & Monico fight for the justice that abused children and their parents deserve.
Signs Of Daycare Child Abuse
Children often don’t report daycare abuse because they’re too afraid, or they might not even know abuse has happened. It’s up to parents to watch out for abuse and understand the various ways it can occur. Daycare child abuse usually takes the form of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and some signs of each are below.
Purposely inflicting injury on a child is physical abuse. Common signs include:
- Unusual cuts, bruises, burns, and broken bones
- Injuries that don’t match the explanations given by the child or caregiver
- Injuries that are healing or fading – for example, bruises – which may indicate past abuse
- The use of severe discipline methods
- Fear, anxiety, or unexplained mood changes that take place when the child goes to the daycare
- Constant crying or visible agitation that happen when the child returns home
This is harm deliberately done to a child’s self-esteem, sense of self-worth, or emotional well-being. Some signs are:
- Bullying, belittling, or insulting behavior
- Excessive isolation or punishment of a child
- Inappropriate behavior on the child’s part suggesting emotional immaturity
- Withdrawal from social situations
- Decreased interest in sports and other activities the child once enjoyed
- Self-harming behavior, including suicidal thoughts and actions
This takes many forms, including molestation, rape, exposing a child to sexual content, and more. Watch for these signs:
- Inappropriate sexual activity, including that involving other children
- Inappropriate knowledge about sexual topics, considering the child’s age
- Ripped, stained, or bloody undergarments
- Itching, pain, or injury to the child’s genitals
- Child pregnancy
- The presence of an STD
Steps To Prevent Daycare Child Abuse
Although you have legal rights if your child is hurt, we’d rather prevent abuse before it happens. These are some steps you, as a parent, can take to protect your child:
- Do your research. Before choosing a daycare, look online for reviews and speak with other parents who may have had a negative experience with the facility. The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services maintains an online database with information about licensing and compliance.
- Obtain references. Don’t just talk with other parents, ask them which facility they would recommend. You should also ask your child’s pediatrician for references.
- Tour the facility. Take a look at the daycare to determine whether it will be a safe place for your child. Speak to daycare management, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Ask what sort of training the staff have. These are the individuals who will be directly responsible for your child’s care. What sort of experience do they have? Have they passed criminal background checks?
- Ask to speak with daycare staff directly. You need to learn what sort of personalities the staff who care for your child have. Are they friendly? Do they seem eager to interact with children? As a parent, you should feel comfortable having these individuals look after your child.
- If allowed, try to have your child stay at the facility for a day before signing them up. Or ask if you can take some time to observe the facility in action. This will give you an opportunity to see how the staff conduct themselves around children.
Why Daycare Child Abuse Happens
Every facility is different, but there are a few common explanations as to why daycare abuse occurs. For example, the daycare might not be licensed, or the license may have lapsed. In other cases, the staff are poorly trained, not properly screened, or inexperienced. The exact reason that your child suffered abuse will be relevant to the legal action you ultimately pursue against the daycare. Report to your attorney any information you learn about the facility or caretakers that suggests why the abuse happened.
Holding The Daycare Liable For Abuse
To bring a lawsuit against the daycare, you have some potential options. Many daycare personal injury cases are based on negligence. Under this theory, the parent would need to show:
- The daycare facility owed a duty of reasonable care to the child
- The facility breached that duty
- The breach caused injury to the child
- The child suffered damages
Proving each element is not as simple as showing your child was enrolled in the daycare and was abused. The daycare must have acted unreasonably in carrying out its duties. For example, let’s say the daycare worker who abused your child had a criminal history. You would want to show that the daycare failed to conduct a background check that could have prevented the worker from being hired.
Sometimes, parents are able to allege something called negligence per se. This means the daycare was negligent because it violated a law that protects child safety. The Illinois Child Care Act is an example of one of these laws. Ask an experienced daycare child abuse attorney for ways to hold the facility liable for abusing your child.
The potential damages for daycare child abuse victims include costs for medical and psychological care, emotional distress, punitive damages, and more. Documenting the treatment your child requires, and all related expenses, is a good first step to demanding compensation. Keep all of your records and let your attorney know the progress of your child’s recovery.
Contact Our Daycare Child Abuse Attorney
Child abuse is unacceptable, and those who are responsible for it should face severe punishment. We also recognize the significant and long-lasting damage that abuse does to children and parents. That’s why we hold abusers and their enablers civilly liable as well. Let Hale & Monico go to work for you and your child. Call us today to schedule a consultation.