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Sexual Abuse of Children in Summer and Day Camps

Hundreds of reports of sexual abuse of children in summer camps surfaced in a national report published at the end of 2018. The news organization uncovered claims dating back to the 1960s and found credible allegations of sexual assault made by at least 578 victims who were campers at various summer camps. Child abuse experts agree that there are likely hundreds more victims who were not identified in the report.

Summer camps provide ample opportunities for sexual assault by predators. Young children in day camp may be supervised by young, inexperienced, and poorly vetted counselors. These issues are exacerbated in sleep-away camps where children are isolated from parents for more significant periods of time and removed from their normal routines. Minimal communication with parents may enable the abuse to persist without detection.

Unlike schools, summer camps are not subject to national regulations. In eight states, there are no licensing requirements for overnight camps, and in 18 states, background checks for employees are not mandated. In addition, nearly 20,000 camp counselors come from foreign countries and standard background checks may not reveal the existence of criminal records for foreign employees. The absence of comprehensive standards for licensing and accreditation creates an environment where there are inadequate controls and oversight. Experts agree that minimal background checks may lure would-be predators into employment positions at summer camps.

Sexual abuse in summer camps is not limited to any particular type of camp. Sexual abuse has been reported at Christian camps, publicly funded camps, and Boy Scout camps. When camps fail to create a safe and secure environment for children, they can be found criminally and civilly liable to their victims. Experts advise that parents can take certain steps to help protect children attending summer camp such as educating children about inappropriate contact, screening the camp to identify their procedures for hiring and their training protocols, and being aware of the potential signs of abuse including an overtly close relationship with a counselor outside normal camp activities.

New laws expanding the statute of limitations in New York, New Jersey and other states allow victims to seek civil damages for a discrete amount of time for the injuries they suffered regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.

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 counselor or camp employee, please contact our lawyers for a free and confidential consultation by calling (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry.

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