The Facts About Sexual Abuse at Daycare
Shockingly, child sexual abuse is more common than anyone can imagine. Approximately 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to Darkness to Light, a nonprofit committed to ending child sexual abuse. An Austin American-Statesman investigation cited more than 450 children were sexually abused in Texas daycares over a 10-year period leading up to 2018. And those are just incidents that were reported to the state.
While it may be hard to acknowledge these disturbing statistics, the reality is that these horrific crimes happen in daycares across Texas. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the signs of sexual abuse in order to protect your child. In this article, we will breakdown children’s behaviors, daycare red flags, resources, and what to do if you suspect your child has been sexually abused or molested while at a Texas daycare.
What Are Signs That a Child Is Being Sexually Abused at Daycare?
Many parents worry about “stranger danger” when it comes to their children, but the truth is sexual abuse often happens with a person they know and trust, such as a daycare worker. While children of all ages are at risk, those most vulnerable are between the ages of 7 and 13 years old, according to the child abuse nonprofit Darkness to Light.
The signs of child sexual abuse in daycare are not always obvious, but parents may notice the following physical and behavioral changes in their children that raise concern:
Physical Signs and Injuries from Sexual Abuse
- Bleeding, bruising, swelling around genital area
- Bloody, torn, or stained clothing
- Difficulty walking or sitting
- Infections or soreness around the genital area—including urinary tract infections, yeast infections, or signs of a sexually transmitted disease
- Pain when going to the bathroom
Behavioral Changes from Sexual Abuse
- Anxiety or fear about daycare. A child who is being sexually abused at daycare might fake an illness to get out of going or express anxiety or fear about being dropped off at daycare. If this seems to be a recurring pattern, it could mean abuse has occurred.
- Changes in mood, including signs of depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), by becoming hyperfocused on their appearance or toys to the point that it interferes with daily activities or causes the child significant stress when the behaviors are not expressed.
- Exhibiting signs of fear or throwing tantrums when left alone with a certain person or during physical contact such as hugs, holding hands to cross a street, or other platonic scenarios.
- Recurring nightmares. When your child suddenly starts having bad dreams or difficulty sleeping, this might mean something is happening at daycare.
- Sudden changes in behavior. Young children, in particular, often start to act out when they are experiencing abuse. If your normally even-tempered child suddenly starts to show aggressive behavior, this could mean there is daycare abuse. Some children will regress (for example, a child who is potty trained might suddenly start wetting or soiling their pants). Children who are abused may also exhibit symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Unusual interest in sexual matters. Often children who have experienced sexual abuse will start to act out inappropriate sexual behavior. Some children might have knowledge about sexual matters well beyond what they should know at a certain age.
It’s possible for some of these behaviors to be part of normal childhood behavior, but parents know their children and know what is and isn’t normal.
What Are Red Flags to Watch Out for If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Sexually Abused at Daycare?
If you suspect your child has been sexually abused, you should also monitor the behaviors exhibited by daycare workers. Red flags include:
- Asking the child to keep secrets
- Forcing physical contact disguised as playing such as hugging, tickling, or wrestling
- Giving the child presents
- Offering to take the child on an overnight outing
- Intentionally walking in on the child while they are using the restroom
- Singling out a child by calling them their “favorite” in the class
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Sexually Abused at Daycare?
If you believe your child has been sexually abused at daycare, talk to your child and follow these key steps:
- Seek medical attention
- Report it immediately to the police
- Work to gather evidence of the incidents—ask to see a video of your child with the worker in question and preserve the footage by recording it with your own smartphone or other device, or request a copy of the video feed from the daycare director
- File a report online or by phone with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
- Contact the compassionate and knowledgeable daycare abuse attorneys at The Button Law Firm by calling 214-699-4409 or filling out a contact form. Your family may be eligible for compensation to cover your child’s medical expenses, therapy and other helpful resources, and pain and suffering for the child and their family. We will be ready to listen and advise your family on the best approach to hold the daycare accountable and get justice for your child’s horrific abuse and lifelong emotional scars.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Dallas Daycare Abuse Lawyers
Our team of experienced and compassionate daycare abuse attorneys at The Button Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for you and your family if your child was sexually abused while in the care of a Texas daycare facility. With offices in Dallas, Houston, and Midland, we are ready to listen, fight for your family, and help your family move forward. Our attorneys at The Button Law Firm are recognized on the prestigious Texas Super Lawyers list, and we can help guide you after a traumatizing incident involving your child. We work on contingency, meaning we don’t charge you or collect any upfront fees to get started on your case. Call us at 214-699-4409 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.