Child Care Sex Abuse

Childcare sexual abuse is a profoundly serious and all too common issue in California. When a child is abused sexually at a childcare institution or facility, it not only inflicts physical harm but also leaves deep psychological scars on the victims, affecting their well-being, development, and future relationships. The families of the victims, too, endure immense emotional distress, grappling with feelings of guilt, anger, and helplessness as they navigate the aftermath of such betrayals.

At Cerri, Boskovich, and Allard, we recognize the devastating impact of childcare sexual abuse on young victims and their families. That’s why we fight aggressively to hold negligent and abusive caregivers and childcare centers accountable. We hope to empower parents, guardians, and caregivers with the knowledge and tools needed to protect their children from further abuse and to offer guidance and comfort to families that have been confronted with the unthinkable.

Understanding Childcare Sexual Abuse

Childcare sexual abuse involves any form of sexual activity with a child by an adult or older adolescent whom the child trusts and depends upon, such as a childcare provider, babysitter, teacher, or coach. This can include a wide range of actions, from inappropriate touching and sexual assault to the exploitation of children through photography or exposure to sexual acts. It is a breach of trust and an exploitation of the inherent power dynamics in adult-child relationships within care settings.

The California Department of Social Services, through its Community Care Licensing Division, investigates hundreds of complaints each year, some of which include allegations of sexual abuse in licensed childcare facilities.

Types of abuse encountered in childcare settings include:

  • Inappropriate Touching: This is the most recognized form of sexual abuse, and it involves any non-consensual physical contact of a sexual nature.
  • Sexual Assault: This includes rape or other forms of sexual penetration or intercourse with a child.
  • Exhibitionism: Exposing a child to adult genitalia or sexual acts.
  • Exploitation: Using a child to create pornography or involving them in prostitution.
  • Grooming: A process by which an offender gradually builds a relationship with the intent to exploit the child sexually, which can involve special attention, gifts, or manipulation to gain the child’s trust.

California Childcare Sexual Abuse Laws

California has established comprehensive laws aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse, especially within childcare settings. These laws not only define and penalize such abuse but also set forth obligations for reporting and timelines for legal action.

  • Penal Code Sections: California Penal Code sections 11164-11174.3, known as the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA), require mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. This includes sexual abuse within childcare settings. Failure to report suspected abuse can result in criminal penalties for the mandated reporter.
  • Licensing Requirements: The California Health and Safety Code sets forth licensing requirements for childcare providers, including background checks for all staff and volunteers to prevent individuals with a history of abuse from working with children.

Mandatory Reporting Requirements for Childcare Providers

Individuals working in childcare settings, including daycare workers, teachers, and administrators, are considered mandated reporters under California law. They are required to report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse, to local law enforcement or child protective services immediately or as soon as practically possible.

Mandated reporters in childcare settings must undergo training on how to identify and report child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse.

Mandatory Requirements for Childcare Centers

The Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) is a regulatory body in California responsible for overseeing daycare and childcare centers and ensuring they meet certain health and safety standards. These standards are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, specifically under Title 22, which contains comprehensive rules and guidelines that childcare programs must follow to operate legally within the state.

Title 22 is crucial in setting the framework for operational, health, and safety requirements for childcare facilities. This includes specifying the necessary qualifications that childcare workers must have to ensure they are adequately trained and capable of providing children with a safe and nurturing environment.

One of the key qualifications is the number of Early Childhood Education (ECE) units a daycare worker must complete to have unsupervised access to children. These units are part of educational programs designed to equip childcare providers with the knowledge and skills necessary to support the development and well-being of young children.

By understanding the regulations outlined in Title 22, parents and guardians can better assess whether a childcare center adheres to the required standards and thus determine if their child is in a safe and supportive environment. Knowing these applicable laws and standards allows parents to make informed decisions about childcare options and identify potential risks or deficiencies.

As we have learned in litigation against corporations such as Child Development, Inc. (CDI), even large and well-established Californian daycare providers might not follow the laws designed to protect your child or even be aware such laws exist.

How to Protect Your Child from Child Care Sex Abuse

The safety of your child starts with the childcare center's hiring policies. Before you choose a daycare center, find out the answers to these questions:

  • Does the facility call prospective employees' previous employers for references? If so, how many former employees does the facility contact?
  • Does the facility do a background check, and if so, how exhaustive is it?
  • What policies are in place (if any) to ensure that children are left alone only with qualified employees?
  • What training (if any) do employees receive about the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse?
  • What policies and procedures are in place for reporting and dealing with suspected child sexual abuse?
  • How does the daycare center respond to any allegations of child sexual abuse?

The answers to these questions will either reassure you that the childcare center is taking the safety of your children seriously or convince you that they have not made the prevention of child sexual abuse their top priority.

Allegations of daycare sex abuse pose many challenges. Typically, they involve numerous victims who may have been coerced or threatened by facility staff to prevent them from reporting their abuse. A proper daycare center is accountable and concerned for the welfare of the children it serves and should engage local law enforcement to help investigate the slightest suspicion of child sex crimes.

Contact Our Child Sex Abuse Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been sexually abused in a daycare or childcare facility, please call the law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard. We can help guide you through this difficult time. Call our San Jose office at (408) 289-1417 or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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