Sexual Abuse of Children by Daycare, Preschool and Aftercare Workers
When parents place their children in daycare, aftercare, or preschool programs, they assume that their children will be cared for and supervised in a safe and secure environment. Parents expect their children’s caretakers to be responsible, experienced, and trustworthy. In many cases, children spend many hours a day with daycare instructors. Unfortunately, small children have been sexually abused while being watched in daycare and aftercare programs and they often do not have the communication skills or awareness to alert parents that they are being harmed.
Sexual abuse can happen in any environment where children are watched primarily by other adults such as schools, sports leagues, Boy Scout activities, and aftercare or daycare programs. The institutions that employ these individuals owe a duty of care to the children they supervise. The failure to ensure the safety of children in school, daycare, or aftercare programs may result from negligent hiring or retention practices, the absence of measures to protect against abusive activity, or the failure to take action after the institution becomes aware of inappropriate or criminal behavior.
Daycare and aftercare facilities are responsible for conducting thorough background checks, properly monitoring their employees, and implementing reasonable standards. This includes maintaining safety protocols for interacting with children. Staff members and preschool employees must also be trained on sexual abuse awareness. Daycare centers often allow volunteers to interact with children and these volunteers may not be required to submit to reasonable background checks or receive formal training. Public school systems may contract with third-party companies to provide before and after-school programming. These companies are also responsible for implementing appropriate standards in their hiring practices.
As in many cases of sexual abuse of minors, the scope of liability can be considerably wider than the perpetrator himself. When children are sexually abused by caretakers in these environments, the perpetrators and those who manage them may be liable for civil damages in addition to criminal liability. Under the revised statutes of limitations in New York, New Jersey and other states, claims of sexual abuse in aftercare or daycare programs can be brought for a limited amount of time regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.
These crimes are especially egregious as they are perpetuated against a vulnerable, defenseless, and unassuming population. Sexual abuse of a child can occur at any age and may even happen in the presence of others. Parents should be aware of the signs of child abuse in young children as children may be afraid to report the abuse or may be unable to describe what happened to them. Early awareness and reporting of sexual abuse are critical to obtaining swift criminal and civil justice and ensuring that the perpetrators are prevented from harming other children.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is a nationally recognized law firm that has recovered millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse. If you or a member of your family has been the victim of sexual misconduct by a teacher, daycare or aftercare employee, or volunteer, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation by calling 1-800-988-8005 or submit an email inquiry on this page.