Harris County is home to more than 1.07 million children, according to a report from Texas Health and Human Services. These young children are vulnerable to instances of sexual abuse at local daycare centers. In fact, a March 2023 report from Texas Health and Human Services cites the Department of Family and Protective Services conducted 872 daycare abuse investigations in 2022, including those of sexual abuse at daycare facilities in Spring.
Because these statistics are disturbing, our daycare injury lawyers at The Button Law Firm are educating parents in Spring about the most common signs of sexual abuse in order to protect their children. In this article, we break down children’s behaviors, provide free resources, and explain potential legal options you can take if you suspect your child has been sexually abused while at a daycare center in Spring.
How Does Sexual Abuse Happen in Spring Daycare Centers?
To start, we want to define what is considered sexual abuse of a child. Any sexual activity such as touching, fondling, and intercourse with a minor is considered sexual abuse in Spring. Sexual abuse also extends beyond physical touching. If daycare workers in Spring expose themselves to a child, or if they produce, own, or share pornographic images or movies with a child, these instances can be classified as sexual abuse. Young children under the age of 18 do not have the maturity nor mental capacity to fully understand the meaning of consent, and therefore cannot legally give it.
While children of all ages are at risk, the 526,786 children in Harris County between the ages of 7 and 13 years old are most vulnerable to sexual abuse, according to child abuse nonprofit Darkness to Light.
Our experienced Spring daycare lawyers have seen firsthand how predatory workers at childcare facilities groom a child to gain their trust before abusing them. Most parents in Spring do not realize that approximately 93% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser. In most instances, children are victimized by a person the child trusts like a teacher, caregiver, or staff member at a daycare center in Spring.
This inappropriate behavior often goes unnoticed and often occurs when other children or workers are in the room. But there are common red flags that can signal a daycare worker in Spring is grooming a child. These 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
Check out nonprofit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s (RAINN) website to learn about other warning signs that can indicate a daycare worker is grooming your child.
Common Physical Signs a Child is Being Sexually Abused at a Daycare Center in Spring
Parents may notice the following suspicious physical signs and injuries that can raise concern of 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 diseases
- Pain when going to the bathroom
Watch this video created by our experienced daycare injury lawyers for additional warning signs of sexual abuse in daycare centers.
Behaviors That Can Indicate a Child Is a Victim of Sexual Abuse at a Daycare Center in Spring
Not all signs of daycare sexual abuse are obvious. Behavioral changes in children can be a red flag for parents in Spring, especially for younger children who may not know how to express what happened to them or do not want to tell a parent for fear of getting in trouble (a lie that is often told to sexual abuse victims).
Common behavioral signs from child abuse victims include:
- 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), such as 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.
If you believe your child has been sexually abused at a daycare center in Spring, talk to your child and contact our compassionate and knowledgeable daycare injury team by calling 281-857-6116 or email us at [email protected].
Can I Sue a Spring Daycare Center After My Child Was Sexually Abused in Its Care?
The family of the child who was sexually abused at a daycare center in Spring has a right to file a lawsuit to hold the daycare and predatory caregivers accountable for your child’s traumatic experience. Through the lawsuit, justice will come in the form of compensation, also known as damages, which is awarded by a court for the monetary, physical, emotional, or psychological impacts that result from your child’s abuse.
Damages that may compensate a child and their family for being victimized include:
- Emotional distress
- Medical expenses, including a child’s ongoing or future medical treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Therapy and other long-term helpful resources to help heal any mental anguish or psychological trauma from the abuse
Since sexual abuse is a crime, there may be a separate criminal case in addition to the daycare lawsuit, which is considered a civil case. You can read more about the two types of legal cases here.
We will be ready to listen and advise your family on the best approach to hold the daycare center in Spring accountable and get justice for your child’s sexual abuse. However, there is a two-year time limit for filing a personal injury claim after an incident of abuse is discovered, so reach out to our team as soon as possible. Call us at 281-857-6116 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.
Resources for Parents and Child Victims of Sexual Abuse
It is often difficult for parents to help children navigate a traumatic experience like sexual abuse. This can be particularly hard for younger children who are limited in their ability to speak or describe their feelings and thoughts. Here are some additional resources to provide your child with support following incidents of sexual abuse at a Spring daycare center:
- A child’s pediatrician for a medical evaluation and recommendation for a child psychologist or therapist
- Counselors at the National Sexual Assault Hotline are available to speak on the phone or an online chat
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network provides additional helpful information and resources for parents of children experiencing traumatic stress
How The Button Law Firm Helps Young Victims of Daycare Sexual Abuse in Spring, Texas
Our team of experienced and compassionate Spring daycare lawyers at The Button Law Firm is dedicated to advocating for you and your family if your child is sexually abused while in the care of a daycare center in Spring, Texas. We are ready to listen and fight to help your family get justice and 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 281-857-6116 or fill out a contact form for a free consultation.