The summer is here, which means child day care centers and summer camps will soon be flooded with vast amounts of children. While typically people are more concerned with who is handling their child and thus mandate background checks for all employees, sometimes it’s the parents who are at fault and cause harm to their children. That’s why it is so important to remind educators, advisors and camp counselors (who are all too often children themselves—most are college aged) how to closely monitor the signs and detect child abuse and neglect.
While national statistics say child abuse is reported every ten seconds, unfortunately most of those cases are not made by child daycare workers—a place where child interaction occurs the most. In fact, studies show that underreporting is a common thread among child day care centers and summer camps, mostly because employees don’t want to get involved, fear they may be wrong, or don’t know the common signs of child abuse. With that said, if you are suspicious a child in your care may be suffering from child abuse because he or she is experiencing one or all of the symptoms listed below, it’s best to talk with an authoritative figure and report the case.
1. Bruising. By far one of the easiest ways to detect physical child abuse is to look for any sort of unexplained bruising or visible cuts, burns, or bite marks. While yes it is true that most children get these kinds of physical marks from playing too rough, sometimes it’s because their caretakers are too harsh with disciplinary actions and resort to burning, beating, kicking, and punching. If you ask the child why he or she has those marks and he or she beats around the bush or stays mute, you might want to be concerned. Also remember to notice where the injuries are located as well. Marks due to rough play are generally on knees and elbows, not cheeks and backs.
2. Fear of Adults. If a child is reluctant, jittery, or seems to be “always on alert” as if something bad is going to happen whenever in the presence of “grown-ups,” the child may be a victim of either physical or sexual abuse. This is a clear indicator that the child does not trust adults. While the child may in fact be just shy, there also may be a deeper and darker situation that is occurring within their home.
3. Excessive Aggression. If a child is prone to lashing out, seems to have a lot of built- up anger, or is destructive to themselves or others, he or she may also be a victim of physical, sexual or emotional child abuse.
4. Difficulty Sitting or Walking. While unexplained urinary tract or yeast infections and bloody underwear are clear signs of sexual child abuse, you may not ever be in the position to see these types of clues. But if the child in your care seems to have a hard time sitting down or walking, or complains of a sore throat or genitals, or even knows a little bit too much about sexual acts, you should be weary.
5. Does Not Want to Go Home. Lastly, typically those that are victims of child abuse will do whatever it takes to avoid going back to the place that causes them harm. While some children fall in love with summer camp and day care centers because they create close friendships with children their own age, if each and every day the child throws a scene when he or she is dismissed to go home, this is a red flag that something might be going on at home.
Some additional signs to watch out for neglect: extreme hunger, depression, if the child seems to always appear to be unclean, or wears the wrong type of clothing for the season.
– By Jane Smith
*About the Author: Jane Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. She writes about criminal background check for Backgroundcheck.org. Questions and comments can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.