The most difficult call we get is from a parent that has reason to believe that their child has been sexually abused while in daycare. Children are so vulnerable, and when terrible things like this happen, it can be difficult for parents to identify what caused a change in their child's behavior. Subtle changes in behavior, like:
- anxiety or fear of the daycare
- sudden changes in mood and temper
- reoccurring nightmares
These can often be overlooked or incorrectly associated with some other innocent cause. But children that are the victims of sexual abuse may have the same changes and responses in their behavior. For example, a child may fake an illness to get out of going to daycare, and that can be easily overlooked as just typical childlike behavior. But keying in on these changes, and figuring out the source is essential to keeping your kids safe at daycare.
Even more alarming signs of the possibility of sexual abuse is when children act out with inappropriate and unusual interest in sexuality. For example, when children exhibit knowledge of sexual matters, well beyond what they should know. Physically, a parent may notice contact irritation of the skin, which could be signs of a condition or sexually transmitted disease.
It's important to trust your instincts, talk to your children, and see a doctor when necessary. If you suspect that your child has been the victim of sexual abuse, you've got to act immediately. It's important to the safety of your child, and the safety of all children, that your concerns are reported to the right state department and as quickly as possible. In Texas, that entity is the Texas Department of Family Protective Services. They're in charge of investigating allegations of neglect and abuse, including sexual abuse that occurs while at daycare. It's a parent's worst nightmare. It's hard to imagine anything worse; but together, we can change the way the system works, and hold the right people and companies accountable for what happened.