Children with special needs are vulnerable to daycare abuse.When daycare abuse is reported, it is often not noted whether or not the child who was abused has special needs, such as a physical disability. However, according to disability advocacy group The Arc, approximately one out of every three special needs children are abused.

If you are a parent of a special needs child who goes to daycare while you are at work, here’s what you should know about helping to ensure your child is safe.

What Makes Children With Special Needs More Vulnerable to Daycare Abuse?

There are several reasons that children with special needs are at a higher risk of experiencing daycare abuse. These include the following:

  • Children with an intellectual disability might not have an understanding of what makes certain behaviors appropriate or inappropriate. 
  • Children with a physical disability might be more vulnerable to neglect or rough treatment, and they might be unable to resist.
  • Children who have behavioral issues because of their disability might be dealt with more forcibly or restrictively, with the abuse incorrectly attributed to the disability.
  • Children with a disability might be more compliant with adult demands, even when they are inappropriate.
  • Children who have low self-esteem because of their disability might be more willing to accept abusive behavior or think they deserve it.
  • Children with an intellectual disability might not be able to talk about the abuse they are experiencing.

What Are the Types of Abuse and Signs Parents Should Look For?

There are four major categories of abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological maltreatment, and neglect. Some of the more common signs of abuse or neglect include:

  • You notice changes in your child’s behavior. Often, children who are being abused will become withdrawn, or they might show aggressive or regressive behavior.
  • If your child starts to have recurring nightmares, this could be a sign that daycare abusers are teasing or tormenting your child with scary masks or other items.
  • At pickup, your child is hungry or thirsty, which could indicate daycare neglect. The same holds true if your child has a dirty diaper at the end of the day.
  • Your child has an unusual interest in sexual behaviors far beyond what they should know about at their age.
  • Your child develops sudden fears that manifest as excessive crying or faking an illness.

What Kind of Damages Can You Expect?

Physical and sexual abuse at daycare will likely lead to criminal charges, but you can file a civil claim for damages as well. The amount of damages will vary, depending on the specifics of the case. These could include:

  • Medical costs related to the daycare abuse or neglect
  • Other economic damages
  • Emotional damages, which can have long-lasting effects on your child

A daycare injury lawyer can provide advice on your options with your case.

What Should You Do if You Suspect Your Special Needs Child Is Being Abused at Daycare?

If you suspect daycare staff is abusing your special needs child, you should report your concerns to daycare administrative staff immediately. You should report the abuse to the local police as well as the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Reporting is crucial to prevent other children from suffering the same abuse, and it's an important step in holding the daycare accountable. 

Bring your child to a physician for a thorough examination; physicians have the training to recognize signs of abuse or neglect. You will also want to take your child out of the daycare center and make alternative care arrangements.

Contact The Button Law Firm

If you believe your child is being abused at daycare, The Button Law Firm can help you and your child get the justice you deserve—and help prevent other children from experiencing the same type of abuse. Schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation today to learn more. Contact us by calling (214)699-4409 or by filling out the contact form at the bottom of this page. You can also reach out to a team member by starting a chat


Russell Button
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Dallas, Houston, and Midland Texas trial and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.