Leaving one’s child under the watch of a daycare center or service can be a bit of a challenge for many parents. All parents want to ensure that their children are secure and out of harm’s way when they are separated from their protection. While most of these institutions provide safe and caring environments for youngsters, there are some that employ abusive individuals.
Sexual abuse is one of the most physically and emotionally damaging forms of mistreatment a child can experience. If you believe that your child has suffered from sexual abuse while under another person’s care, you may be entitled to damages for the injuries sustained by your child as a result. Contact daycare sexual abuse lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn more about your legal options.
Physical Signs of Abuse
Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit physical signs of such mistreatment. Be aware of the following indicators—if your child exhibits any of these physical symptoms, he or she may be suffering from sexual abuse while outside your immediate care:
- Difficulty sitting or walking
- Clothing that becomes torn while your child is away from your house or under someone else’s care in your own home
- Pain or itching in genitalia
- Underwear that becomes stained or bloody while your child is away from your house or under someone else’s care in your own home
- Development of a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Behavioral Signs of Abuse
Aside from exhibiting physical signs of abuse, children who have been sexually mistreated will tend to show the following behavioral changes:
- A newfound interest in or avoidance of all things sexual
- Problems with sleeping
- New and age-inappropriate seductive behavior
- Extremely aggressive or passive behavior
- Use of sexual words and phrases
- Sudden personality changes
Civil Legal Liability for Daycare Sexual Abuse
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most sexual abuse of a child is committed by someone the child knows and trusts. These individuals include relatives, family friends, teachers, coaches, babysitters, and daycare employees. Those in a position of authority over a child—such as a daycare center teacher or supervisor—render a child particularly helpless against their abusive advances.
Daycare employees may be held civilly as well as criminally liable for the sexual abuse of children within their care. The daycare centers that employ individuals who have sexually abused such children may also be held civilly liable for the sexual abuse committed by their employees.
Duty of Care Owed by Daycare Centers and their Employees
An employee of a daycare center as well as the daycare center itself owes a duty of reasonable care toward any children who are under their supervision and care. All states are required by federal law to maintain policies and procedures to protect the health and safety of children in daycare centers. The violation of state laws regarding the protections that must be afforded to children under a daycare center’s care may be considered a breach of the duty of care owed by the daycare center and/or its employees in an action for damages sustained by children while under the center’s care.
The duty of care owed by a daycare center and its employees includes the duty not to sexually abuse children under the center’s care and to take reasonable precautions to prevent the occurrence of such abuse.
Direct Liability of Daycare Centers
A daycare center may be held directly liable in an action for negligence for the damages sustained by a child as a result of a daycare-center employee’s sexual abuse of the child. For example, a daycare center may be held directly liable for a child’s sexual abuse and resulting injuries if those injuries were sustained as a result of the sexual abuse of an employee with respect to whom the center failed to take reasonable care in the screening, hiring, training, or retaining of the employee.
A daycare center may also be found liable for the sexual abuse or assault of a child within its care if the center failed to take adequate precautions to prevent outsiders from entering the center and an outsider who gained entrance as a result of the center’s negligent safety procedures sexually assaulted or abused a child entrusted to the center’s care.
Vicarious Liability of Daycare Centers
Even if a daycare center exercised reasonable care in its safety procedures and in the screening, training, hiring, and retaining of its employees, it may be held vicariously liable for the sexual abuse of a child entrusted to the center’s care when the abuse is committed in the daycare center by a daycare center employee.
If your child has been a victim of sexual abuse while at daycare, call daycare sexual abuse lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for dedicated and experienced assistance in pursuing your legal rights.