Sexual Abuse in Childcare Settings

When you send your child to school, daycare, or any type of youth activity, you expect that an extensive background check has performed on the individuals who will be interacting with your child. Yet, this is not always the case. Sadly, there are times when a caregiver, teacher, coach, or youth leader uses their power to sexually molest or abuse the children in their care. When this occurs, they can—and should be held accountable for their crimes. In addition, the organization should be held accountable for failing to install safeguards to prevent this type of devastating abuse from occurring.

Negligent Security
Individuals who are in direct contact with your child on a daily basis are, unfortunately, also in a position to take advantage of your child’s trusting nature. Sexual assaults on children can be committed by teachers, coaches, bus drivers, daycare employees, counselors, or service providers. Additionally, random attacks can occur at shopping centers, hotels, and other public places.

Owners of public places and daycares, school districts, and administrators of educational institutions have a duty to furnish a reasonable degree of security to children and families they serve. Additionally, there are other persons or entities that may have failed to exercise reasonable measures to prevent sexual misconduct toward children, including:

• Failure to perform a thorough investigation of an individual’s background
• Failure to prohibit a known abuser from having access to children or other potential victims
• Failure to furnish safety measures such as proper lighting and adequate personnel
• Failing to report suspected abuse or investigate alleged abuse

If the proper security precautions are not taken and sexual misconduct occurs at a daycare center or youth organization, the owner can be held liable. If an assault takes places at school, the negligent school district and administration could be responsible.

Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse at School/Daycare
While the majority of schools and childcare establishments are safe and reputable, sexual abuse is still a tragic reality. Parents should always be aware of possible signs of abuse in schools and daycares. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has identified certain warning signs characteristic of abused children. These indicators include:

• Radical mood swings or behavioral changes
• Sleep disturbances including bed-wetting, nightmares, or fear of bed time
• Sudden acting out of aggressive or rebellious feelings or behavior
• Atypical interest in sexual matters or acting out sexual activities
• Changes in bathroom-training habits or regression to infantile behavior
• School/social/behavioral issues
• New or excessive fears of certain people, places, or activities

Parents are also encouraged to always listen to their children and take them seriously when they want to tell you about something that happened at school or daycare that made them uncomfortable.

Organizations and institutions have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the children in their care. This means performing vigilant background checks on all employees, caregivers, and personnel. It also means taking reports of sexual abuse seriously and investigating all incidents of improper conduct. In addition, organizations need to implement safety protocols that ensure that an adult is never left alone with a child. These safety protocols can make it more difficult for a sexual predator to gain access to a child – and can stop sexual abuse from occurring.

Contact Our Washington DC Child Injury Lawyers
If your child has been the victim of sexual abuse, it is important to know where to turn for help. At Patrick Malone & Associates, our child injury lawyers have extensive experience representing sexually abused children and families in Washington, DC metro area, Virginia, and throughout the State of Maryland. Call us at 1-202-742-1500 or 1-888-625-6645 or fill out our confidential contact form for a FREE Consultation and review of your case.

The child injury attorneys at Patrick Malone & Associates have successfully represented injured individuals in Washington, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, Annapolis, Rockville, Baltimore, Richmond, Fairfax, Maryland, and throughout Virginia.