Signs of Child Abuse In A Care Setting: Part 1

child toy.jpgToday more than ever, busy parents rely on others to assist in the care of their children.  Daycare facilities, sports classes, before school / after school programs have become increasingly popular as more families rely on two incomes to support the family and spend more time outside of the home.

While the increase in these types of child care can be great for parents and children, it its important to keep in mind that regulatory agencies may not have the manpower or regulatory power to perform inspections of these facilities.  Consequently, it is important that parents make themselves aware of the symptoms that may be indicative of mistreatment or abuse by those whom are to be looking after their kids.

Curious, full of energy, and constantly on the move children require the supervision of a qualified adult wherever they may be. Younger children in a day care setting, require constant supervision to ensure that they do not injure themselves. Some common accidental injuries that children suffer from at day care include: injuries from falls, choking, and getting into toxic substances. 

Like elderly nursing home residents, one of the most common causes of injury are dangerous falls. Therefore, day care centers and homes must ensure that the area is kept free of hazards in order to prevent accidents and falls. This includes making sure that toys are kept organized and out of walkways, no cords or other tripping hazards are in the play area, and dangerous cleaning products and other chemicals or substances are kept out of the reach of children. 

Children love chewing on toys and putting things in their mouths. This can cause multiple problems: choking, spreading germs, disease, and infections, and exposure to toxic substances. Day care personnel must ensure that children are playing with toys that are suitable for their age. 

One of the biggest risks posed to children in a daycare setting is choking, so there should be no small toys or toys with removable pieces that might pose a choking hazard. Toys and surfaces should be cleaned regularly (with a nontoxic cleaning agent), in order to prevent children from sharing germs and potentially diseases and infections. Children have no understanding or appreciation for warning labels, so cleaning products and other toxic substances should be kept out of the reach of children. 

Then, there are some common injuries that are not accidental. Instead, these injuries are caused by abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, many injuries that are caused by abuse or neglect are similar to injuries (bruises, scrapes, cuts) that children can display from accidents including falls. This is one reason that Illinois requires mandated reporters to provide reports of child abuse and neglect because they are in the best position to tell the difference between accidental injuries and injuries stemming from abuse and neglect. 

Signs of Physical Abuse:

It is not uncommon for children to have bruises, cuts, and scrapes from playing or poor balance when learning to walk. No one injury can prove that child abuse is occurring. However, certain injuries, the location or grouping of injuries, or a history of injuries can be indicators of abuse.  Shaken baby syndrome is a common form of child abuse (bleeding in the eye or brain, damage to spinal cord and neck, and rib or bone fractures). 

The following are indicators of child abuse, when the child:

  • Has unexplained bruises, broken bones, burns, or black eyes
  • Had fading bruises or other marks after an absence from school or care
  • Seems frightened of parents or caretaker and does not want to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or caregiver

The parents’ or caregivers’ behavior and actions can also be indicators of abuse, when the caregiver:

  • Offers conflicting or unconvincing explanation for the child’s injury
  • Describes the child in negative ways
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • Has a history of abuse with the child

Please follow our Nursing Homes Abuse Blog for Part 2 of Signs of Child Abuse.

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