Raising a family and making ends meet can be a challenge that most parents know all too well. In an ideal world, parents would have more time to stay at home with their kids and less time at the office working hard to pay the bills and all the “needs and wants” for their children. Talk to most parents and they will agree that the struggle is worth it and in the end, their child’s happiness and well being remains a number one priority.
Child Aware of America reports that in any given week there are approximately 11 million children, across the U.S., enrolled in a childcare facility; the overwhelming statistic proves that the need is great. Children with special needs are no exception. Parents of a child with special needs, who may need specialized care for his or her mental, emotional or physical health, may have a more difficult time finding a facility that fits the needs of their child. Regardless of a child’s ability and level of care, parents choose child care facilities or individual providers that they can trust. Unfortunately, many children fall victim to abuse and neglect in some of the most “trusted” environments.
How Do I Know If My Child is a Victim of Abuse and Neglect?
Parents can be pretty intuitive about their children and know them well, even when they don’t see them for the majority of a day. If you sense that your child is a victim of abuse or neglect, don’t ignore your gut feeling. Initially, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your child is a victim, even if he or she has visible bruising on his or her body (i.e. kids fall down, etc.) There are many warning signs of child abuse that you should take seriously and three types of abuse that children in a care facility may face.
It’s important to note that all and any signs may differ from child to child, particularly those who have special physical or behavioral needs.
- Physical Abuse: A child who has received a nonaccidental injury, such as burns, bites, bruising from a kick or a punch, is a victim of physical abuse. Frequent or odd shaped bruising are common indicators. A child, who is physically abused, may described as “accident prone” by the abuser and may develop a fear or dislike of the care provider or adults in general.
- Sexual Abuse: A child who has genital infections (such as frequent urinary or yeast infections), bruising, or difficulty sitting/running/walking, may be a victim of sexual abuse. The child may become withdrawn and fearful of the provider, particularly during naptime, and even display an interest/knowledge of sexual behavior (inappropriate for age).
- Emotional Abuse: Children who have been emotionally abused may have been belittled, isolated, terrorized, stigmatized, and subject to other psychological abuse. The child may have extreme behavioral issues or outbursts, may show signs of self-loathing/destruction and may try to hurt him/herself.
What to Do Once You Suspect Your Child is a Victim
If your child exhibits any signs of abuse, you should take action immediately by talking and asking questions. If your child has special needs or is unable to speak, it may be difficult to get answers from him or her. While you may not get an honest answer from your child care provider, ask specific questions. Parents should also strongly consider making an appointment with the child’s doctor. If he or she determines or suspects that your child is a victim of abuse, it’s important to take further action to prevent abuse. Most importantly, removing your child from the care facility and strongly consider consulting a lawyer.
Your child deserves the best of care, regardless of his or her abilities or needs. You work hard to provide for and protect your child, never ignore the signs of childcare abuse.