I’m constantly asked by worried mums about concerns with sending their young ones to daycare. I want to make it very clear, despite some high profile cases of sexual abuse on kids by staff, ( Australia: https://adamwhittington.co/2022/06/10/paedophile-childcare-worker-bronte-ciracovitch-pleads-guilty-to-further-abuse-crimes/ UK: https://adamwhittington.co/2022/06/11/one-of-britains-worst-paedophiles-could-be-freed-from-jail-child-abuser-who-coaxed-nursery-worker-vanessa-george-to-sexually-abuse-babies-and-toddlers-is-set-for-parole-board-hearing-2/ Hungary: https://adamwhittington.co/2022/06/11/child-abuse-nursery-school-teacher-and-her-partner-to-be-prosecuted-in-hungary/ ) studies show daycare is relatively safe, but you should also know the signs to look for in the rare cases where children are physically or sexually abused. There’s also no super hero costume to put on kids before you send them to daycare (I wish there was), which stops possible predators.
This blog is based on my experience dealing with sex offenders, & also as a father of three.
Never put your child in a day care facility or home that does not have an open-door policy for parents. You should not have to call first, & no areas that children have access to should be off limits to you.
My strongest advice is to always listen to your kids & take them seriously if they tell you about something at day care that makes them uncomfortable. With kids who are not talking yet, or who seem reluctant to talk, you’ll have to watch for other cues, like bleeding, bruises around their penis, vagina or anus as a few examples.
Yes, I know some parents including me, who has & do quickly check their kids for these signs after each day at daycare. Overprotective? No way! Your job as a parent is to protect your kids. If your child is being sexually or physically abused then it’s your job to pick it up immediately.
Those who follow me know my favourite saying, “You only get one chance at protecting your kids from predators. There’s no second chance“.
It can be difficult to choose a daycare location that offers all of the benefits of a home environment. When scouting locations, safety should be the number one concern on a parent’s list- & this includes protecting children from physical & sexual abuse. Parents can help protect their children from harm by closely examining the policies & locations of day care facilities, including:
• Restrooms. Most daycare sexual abuse occurs during restroom visits. Ask who is responsible for taking children to the bathroom, what the policies are, & if more than one person escorts children to toilet areas. Restrooms should be in close proximity to play areas, as children can be isolated if restrooms are down long hallways or on a separate floor of the building.
• Sleeping areas. Children should be properly supervised during nap times, & never left in a room alone. Ask which staff members supervise children during nap times, & ensure that sleeping areas are near to the main play area.
• Childcare staff. Always ask about the training, education, & credentials of all daycare personnel who will be interacting with your child. Employees should be screened for criminal history before hiring, including volunteers & teacher’s aides. It’s your right to ask about these checks & don’t let the director brush it off.
• Parent access. Parents should be free to come & go without calling ahead, & there should be no areas that are off-limits to parents. However, there should be a sign-in system when parents visit the daycare, as well as an approved list of family members who are allowed to visit the children.
• Third-party access. Find out who may have access to your children in addition to parents & staff. Physical & sexual abuse often come from overlooked authority figures, such as bus drivers, janitors, & relatives of the day care center workers.
Don’t be scared to ask the director of the daycare how it screens prospective day care providers.
You should be alert to these indicators of abuse:
• Changes in behavior or extreme mood swings.
• Changes in bed-wetting, nightmares, fear of going to bed, or other sleep disturbances.
• Acting out inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters.
• Sudden acting out of feelings, or aggressive or rebellious behavior.
• Regression to infantile behavior or clinging.
• School problems, behavior problems.
• Changes in toilet-training habits.
• Fear of certain places, people, or activities; an excessive fear of going to the day care center.
Kids can learn to protect themselves if you give them the tools. Young children can be taught some basic lessons that you can elaborate on as they get older.
Some messages I believe you should pass onto your kids:
• You have the right to say NO to anyone who asks you do something painful, embarrassing, or wrong.
• No one should touch you on the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit, nor should you touch anyone else in these private places.
• Don’t be tricked if someone says to keep something a secret by threatening you or bribing you.
• Remember the no secret rule.
• Don’t remain alone with an adult in an isolated place, such as a bathroom or bedroom, if it makes you feel uncomfortable.
Key points to understand & what I believe are crucial in keeping your kids safe when you are not around:
• It’s natural to feel uncomfortable talking with children about child sexual abuse.
• Talking about child sexual abuse may be uncomfortable for you, but I promise you it helps keep children safe.
• Talk about saying no, physical warning signs, inappropriate touch, & safe or unsafe secrets & places. Body boundary books are the best education material, which help keep your kids safe.
• You must have a no secret policy/rule with your children. This is crucially important as predators threaten children with secrets.
• Make your children understand that they can come to you for absolutely anything & they will not be in trouble. Predators are notorious for telling their victims that they’ll be in trouble with their parents if they tell them about the abuse.
This blog is for a guide only. I urge you to research any potential Daycare centre as thoroughly as I hope you would with a babysitter.