Recognizing and Reporting Day Care Abuse
Signs of Abuse
There are several forms of abuse you must be aware of to adequately protect your children. Day care abuse may be physical, sexual, verbal, psychological, or the result of improper supervision.
- Physical abuse occurs when a day care provider uses any unreasonable physical force against your child.
- Sexual abuse occurs when a day care provider subjects your child to any sexual contact.
- Verbal abuse occurs when your child is subjected to obscene language, harassment, humiliation, and threats of physical violence.
- Psychological abuse refers to controlling your child with medication absent your consent or knowledge.
- Improper supervision is the broadest form of day care abuse because it allows your day care provider to be liable for the harmful actions of other children or employees against your child as well as injuries suffered by your child due to their own actions.
In addition to the potential for neglect and abuse as outlined above, environmental hazards also exist within day care centers. Such hazards include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Improper playground surface maintenance;
- Insufficient interior child proofing;
- Inadequately stored hazardous or toxic chemicals;
It is imperative to report allegations of day care abuse to your day care provider immediately. Immediately refers to the same day you pick your child up from the provider’s location. Waiting even a day to report your concerns allows the day care center to challenge their responsibility for your child’s injuries. For litigation purposes, it is helpful to report abuse allegations to more than one individual at the day care center.
It is important to obtain documentation, if possible, if you believe your child or relative is the subject of day care abuse. Documentation provides evidence of the abuse for litigation or settlement purposes. If you suspect abuse, it is imperative to record your child’s appearance before and after attending day care along with dates and times of alleged abuse incidents. Proper documentation provides flexibility when negotiating a settlement claim and helps to substantiate any criminal charges that may flow from your allegations of negligence and/or abuse.
Under Georgia law, day care centers and providers are liable for the negligent and abusive actions of their employees and contractors. The doctrine of respondeat superior requires day care providers to protect children from employee abuse and negligence. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, decal.ga.gov, lists all requirements for licensed day care centers under Georgia law. Please visit their website to ensure your current or future day care provider is complying with Georgia law.
In addition, to protect children from abuse, Georgia law requires all day care employees to submit to criminal background checks. If the day care center is provided within a home, all employers and adults age 18 or older living in the home or who have routine contact with the child must also submit to criminal background checks. Prior felony convictions prohibit anyone from working in a day care facility unless in the case of special circumstances.