Parents who leave their children in church daycares might feel confident about the safety of a religious environment. Unfortunately, abuse and neglect can happen anywhere.
Faith-based daycares are subject to the same regulations as other types of daycares under the Texas Childcare Licensing Act to provide a safe and healthy environment for children. Although First Amendment arguments have been raised, the Act has been upheld in court when it’s been challenged.
Common Types of Daycare Abuse
Daycare abuse comes in several different forms and all can be damaging to children. The side effects of abuse could stay with your child for a lifetime. The most common forms of abuse include the following:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Each type of abuse causes different types of behaviors or symptoms in children.
Common Signs of Daycare Abuse and Neglect
Daycare abuse can go unnoticed—particularly in young children who may not have the verbal ability to describe what is happening or if they are afraid to tell anyone what’s happening. Because children often cannot adequately describe a negative situation, it is up to parents to be alert for behaviors or physical signs that abuse or neglect is happening.
These are the signs to look for:
- Bruises, scratches, or other physical injuries. Physical abuse is usually the easiest abuse to identify since the evidence is right there. If your child is coming out of daycare with unexplained injuries, these could point to abuse. Look for injuries such as marks on your child’s wrists, arms, buttocks, or shoulders. Another sign to watch for is if your child flinches at sudden movements or cowers when being touched.
- Changes in behavior. A child who suddenly becomes shy or withdrawn or who gets very upset and guilty after mild misdeeds might be suffering from daycare abuse. An abused child often has difficulty controlling their impulses in social settings. Children who suddenly start to act out aggressively by kicking, biting, or scratching could also be experiencing abuse.
- Recurring nightmares. Children who are being abused may have trouble sleeping through the night, and they may start to have nightmares.
- Regressive behavior. Sometimes children who are dealing with abuse start to show regression, such as a potty-trained child who suddenly starts having accidents or an older child who starts sucking their thumb again.
- Inappropriate interest in sexual behaviors. Children who are being sexually abused often have knowledge that is far beyond what they would be expected to know for their age.
- Sudden fear of going to daycare. If your child starts to act fearful, fake illness, or cry when being dropped off at daycare, this could be a sign of potential abuse.
What to Do When You Suspect Abuse
Suspecting that your child is being abused is a parent’s worst nightmare. It can be scary to accuse someone of neglect or abuse, especially when you may not be certain it is happening. But if the evidence points to your child being abused or neglected, there are some crucial steps you must take immediately:
- Take your child to the pediatrician. Medical professionals are trained to watch for signs of abuse. Visiting the doctor will also provide you the medical proof you will need to build your case.
- File a report. You can report your suspicions of abuse to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services by calling 1-800-252-5400 or making a report online at TXAbuseHotline.org. This will initiate a state investigation into the facility.
- Contact law enforcement. If you have evidence of criminal daycare abuse, you should file a report with your local police department so they can conduct an investigation.
- Contact an attorney. An experienced daycare injury attorney is essential. Your attorney will be able to ensure that you have notified the appropriate parties about the abuse or neglect while holding the daycare facility responsible for its actions or the actions of its employees.
How an Attorney Can Help
If there are criminal charges, these will be handled by law enforcement. However, your family also has the option of filing a civil lawsuit against the abuser and their employer to hold them financially responsible. You may be able to recover compensation for expenses such as medical bills, therapy, and more. Child abuse victims might also be able to recover damages for emotional distress, psychological harm, and expenses for psychological treatment, therapy, and counseling.
An experienced daycare injury attorney can discuss the details of your case and let you know if it is worth pursuing. There is no charge to evaluate your case in a complimentary consultation, and if we believe you have a case, we will take it on a contingency basis. You will pay no upfront fees, and we will only get paid if you get paid.
Statute of Limitations on Daycare Abuse and Neglect Cases in Texas
The statute of limitations in daycare abuse cases is two years, although minors are allowed to bring a lawsuit up to two years after turning 18. However, it is best to develop a daycare abuse or neglect case as soon as possible because evidence can disappear and memories can fade—making the case more difficult to prove in court. It is essential to get these incidents reported to the proper authorities so that evidence can be gathered and preserved, investigators work on it quickly, the facts are properly documented, and other children at the daycare are protected from the abuse.
The Button Law Firm Wants to Protect Children in Texas
If your child was injured because of abuse or neglect in a church or religious daycare, you need the help of an experienced daycare injury legal team. The Button Law Firm represents children from all over Texas and is committed to protecting children from harm. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.