Daycare Child Abuse Lawyers in Arizona
Compassionate Phoenix Attorneys for Children and Their Families
Child abuse is on the rise. It is estimated that one in every 140 children under the age of 5 is abused in some form while enrolled in a childcare program. This includes, but is not limited to, institution-based care, home-based care, day camps, preschool centers, residential camps, and afterschool care.
Do not wait until it is too late. It is extremely important to be proactive when it comes to your child’s safety. It is better to ask too many questions than to look back later and wonder why you didn’t.
The Types of Abuse
Child abuse falls into these five categories below:
- Physical abuse is any intentional act causing trauma or injury to your child by way of bodily contact. This is most often seen when the care provider feels disciplinary action is necessary.
- Neglect is the most common type of abuse. Sometimes daycare providers may not realize they are harming children by leaving them unattended or not caring for them properly. Some examples of this are: not providing nourishment, allowing an unsafe environment (such as a crib not properly put together), not providing education, and not monitoring the child’s health.
- Sexual abuse is any sexual conduct that is harmful to the child’s emotional, mental, or physical well-being. A minor cannot consent to any sexual activity, period. Therefore, any inappropriate touching, fondling, or penetration is considered child abuse. Other forms of sexual abuse are having the minor pose for inappropriate pictures and/or videos, or having the minor observe sexual activities. This can be the most difficult of the abuses to identify and report, but is often the most traumatic to the child.
- Emotional abuse is a mistreatment of the child that leads to emotional, physiological, and developmental impairment. It can involve words of verbal abuse, actions such as failure to show affection, bullying, or other forms of mental harm. Abusers constantly ignore, reject, dominate, belittle, and overly criticize victims.
- Medical abuse occurs whenever a daycare provider ignores orders from a doctor or the child’s parents for giving the child medical care. For example, not giving a child his medication on time, or allowing him to eat something he is allergic to.
Warning Signs of Abuse
Children aren’t always able to articulate when something is wrong. If you do suspect something, no matter how small, it is always best to go with your intuition and investigate. If it turns out nothing is going on, great; but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child’s well-being. Below are some of the warning signs you should be on the lookout for:
- Mood swings or personality changes. A normally outgoing child suddenly becomes withdrawn and shy.
- A sudden fear or loss of interest in activities.
- Acting out inappropriately. This can include hitting, biting, or other defiance in normal situations. It can also include acting out sexual behaviors with toys/objects, or showing an unusual interest in sexual behaviors.
- Becoming withdrawn, very clingy, or suddenly secretive.
- Sudden extreme loyalty to the perpetrator, being afraid to report the abuse out of fear of being punished, or thinking that these actions are normal. Alternatively, the child may suddenly be afraid and not want to be alone with the perpetrator.
- Regression. A child who has learned to walk may start crawling again, or a child may start to soil himself after he’s already been potty-trained.
- Changes to sleep patterns and habits. This may include bed-wetting, a sudden fear of the dark, nightmares, or other sleep disturbances.
- Unaccounted marks and/or bruises on the child’s body. The child may layer clothes or attempt to hide the marks, so bath-time is a good time to look for signs of physical abuse without alarming the child.
- Unexplained aches or pains such as headaches or stomachaches. Sometimes emotional trauma can present itself with physical responses.
- Difficulty sitting/walking, or pain or unexplained soreness around the genitals or mouth. This can include sores or bleeding.
There are also times where abuse comes in the form of neglect by the care providers or the facility itself. Some examples include unsafe conditions at the facility, which can include improperly installed cribs or child safety gates; recalled products; poor playground maintenance and surfacing; exposed window blind cords or bedding that can tangle and choke a child; and more. Be sure to take note of these things when touring your daycare facility and to ask questions.
What to Do When You Suspect Abuse
ANY changes in your child’s behavior should be noted and well-documented, especially when you suspect child abuse. Keep a journal handy and write everything down, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time. Be sure to save text messages and take photos of all bruises and marks found on your child. Often times, all the small pieces come together to prove what you have been feeling in your gut all along.
If you suspect your child might be suffering abuse, there are several steps that should be taken immediately:
- You should remove your child from the situation and file a claim with the Arizona Department of Child Safety, which is trained to investigate these situations and determine if abuse is indeed happening. They will also know what steps to take if the abuse is confirmed.
- You should speak with other family members to see if they have noticed changes in your child’s behavior, and document the findings.
- You should also discreetly speak with other parents at the facility to see if they notice changes in their children’s behavior as well. Often times, the perpetrator will abuse multiple children in the same setting, or maybe another child witnessed the abuse.
- Arrange a visit with your pediatrician. They are trained to recognize the signs of abuse, and can evaluate your child and collect evidence when needed.
- Lastly, document, document, document! This will be especially valuable should you proceed to take legal action against the perpetrator to prevent further abuse.
No one knows your child better than you do. As a parent, you do your best to keep your child safe and take action when abuse is suspected.
What Legal Action Can You Take?
Your right to legal action against the perpetrator is based on state and local laws, which vary by region. You should contact a local lawyer to find out what your specific rights are. Often, parents will have a choice when filing a claim against the daycare center and/or the perpetrator. Some examples of this are:
- Personal injury actions, from negligence.
- Breach of contract and/or breach of childcare duty.
- Criminal battery and assault.
- Endangerment to a minor.
An Arizona child abuse attorney can help you figure out which legal claim best fits your individual case, or if you have a case. There are two major factors that must be considered:
- The type of injuries sustained by the child. Was the injury intentional or accidental? How severe is the injury? Was this a one-time occurrence, or an ongoing event?
- The perpetrator’s state of mind when the abuse occurred. Did the provider intend to harm the child? Did the provider act with reasonable common sense and within a suitable time frame? Did the provider have adequate procedures, policies, and training in place to prevent injury?
You should also keep in mind that most daycare facilities have mandatory liability insurance in place to handle claims; the individual employees don’t. Insurance companies can be cutthroat and are designed to limit the amount of a settlement paid out for your child’s injuries. You do not have to fight the insurance companies alone. The Husband and Wife Law Team has experienced Arizona child day care injury attorneys who can go over your case, and advocate for your family. We concentrate on the legal action so you can focus on healing—both physically and emotionally.
Remember that the time to bring all claims is NOW! Each state has statutes of limitations in place that limit the amount of time a family has to file claims against a daycare. For a free consultation, please call us today at (602) 267-1280.
- What to Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Being Abused at Daycare
- Signs of Child Abuse You Should ALWAYS Watch Out For
- The Types of Daycare Child Abuse
- Considering In-Home Daycare or Daycare for Your Child?
- Arizona Personal Injury Law Firm Publishes School and Daycare Safety Infographic
- Child Safety at School in Arizona
- Child Care Facilities Licensing in Arizona
- Suspect Abuse? Report It. Now. - Arizona Department of Child Safety