Author: James Mick "Jamie" Kessel, Virginia Personal Injury Lawyer
Many parents trust day cares and other child care providers to keep their children safe and healthy, both physically and mentally. In order to foster that trust, the Virginia legislature has mandated that any employee of a child welfare agency who is involved in the “day-to-day operations of the center or who is or will be alone with, in control of, or supervising one or more of the children” must pass a background check. Among other barriers to employment at a day care, a day care may not hire any applicant with a “founded complaint of child abuse or neglect within or outside” Virginia. These standards have helped diminish the occurrence of day care abuse. In 2012, abuse (both sexual and otherwise) perpetrated by a day care provider accounted for only 3.5% of total abuse cases in Virginia. Unfortunately, though day cares are generally safe, there are individuals who slip through the cracks and harm the children under their care.
Child sexual abuse can have immediate effects on a child’s behavior, the most obvious being “inappropriate sexual knowledge, sexual interest, and sexual acting out by that child.” There are a number of other common signs of child sexual abuse, including:
- Regressive behaviors (e.g., a return to thumb sucking or bed-wetting);
- Sleep disturbances;
- Eating problems;
- Behavior and/or performance problems at school; and
- Nonparticipation in school and social activities.
Child sexual abuse can have serious effects beyond childhood and into adulthood. This is why, if you suspect your child is being sexually abused at day care or by a child care provider, you should take steps immediately to safeguard your child’s well-being.
Because sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for children, it is important that you give your child a safe environment where he or she can talk to you or another trusted adult. Here it is important that you encourage your child to speak about what he or she experienced without suggesting what events may or may not have happened. Finally, it is key that you reassure your child that he or she did nothing wrong.
Once you have spoken to your child, you should seek mental health assistance for him or her – therapy is an essential component of a child’s ongoing recovery from sexual abuse. Additionally, you should contact a medical service provider and arrange for a medical examination of your child. This can help reveal if sexual abuse has occurred and to what extent. After your child has started receiving the appropriate medical treatment, you should engage legal representation. You and your lawyer can file a lawsuit and ensure that the person who abused your child will never be able to harm another child.
If you suspect that your child has been the victim of sexual abuse at day care or by a child care provider, call the law firm of Allen & Allen. For a free consultation and to talk about your case, call us at 866-388-1307.
About the Author: James Kessel is a personal injury attorney with the Allen Law Firm. He focuses his practice to fighting for the rights of people who have been seriously injured or killed due to the negligence of others. His practice includes cases involving auto accidents, tractor trailer accidents, wrongful death, distracted driving, day care liability and dangerous premises.
 Va. Code § 63.2-1719; www.dss.virginia.gov/files/division/licensing/cdc/intro_page/code_regulations/regulations/standards.pdf