Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sexual Abuse Knows No Age Limit!

How old do you think a child has to be in order for a sexual abuser to victimize him or her? Apparently, no age is too young! This is a very sad story... an acquaintance of mine went to pick up her infant son, who is maybe 6 months old, from the in-home daycare center. That day she saw that he had a strange mark on his bottom... it was almost like a diaper rash, but had red prickly marks on it and a bluish tint. She couldn't figure out what it was, but she assumed it was just a weird rash, and that the blue tint was due to the baby's olive skin tone.
But by the next day, the mark had spread and changed colors, and it was obvious that it was a bruise! In a very suspicious area where a baby would not acquire a bruise from just natural, everyday events. This mother took her baby to the emergency room, and it is suspected that the baby was sexually abused by the brother of the lady who runs the in-home day care center. Apparently the woman had left the children in the day care home alone with the brother at least once!
Sexual abuse of infants is rare, but apparently it does happen. If your infant has strange marks around his or her genitals or buttocks, that is a big reason to be suspicious. Some babies will have sudden changes of behavior, even very mild. For instance, the baby I've told you about had a decreased appetite around the time when his mother discovered the bruise. Be wary if your baby is suddenly afraid of certain people or suddenly begins resisting being held or touched. These things can be parts of normal development for babies, but if several things happen at once, you may have reason to investigate.
Also, as always, be careful about who watches your infant! All commercial day care centers, and many in-home day care centers, require employees to undergo background checks. The woman who ran the in-home day care center that this baby went to, as well as her sister who worked as her assistant, were licensed child care providers and had had background checks. But the infants in their care had been left alone with a man who was not licensed, had not had a background check, and who the parents of the children didn't even know existed. If you use an in-home day care provider, ask the person who runs it if the children are ever left with anyone else other than the provider or his/her assistants. The in-home provider should not be leaving children with anyone, including family members, neighbors, friends, etc... at least not without permission from the children's parents!
(By the way, I've known of at least two in-home child care providers who occasionally left groups of children home alone with the provider's older children, some of them as young as 11 or 12.... and if you are not comfortable with this, you should make that clear to the provider.)
Remember... most people who choose to work with children are people who enjoy being around children and want to help them... so don't be paranoid about everyone you encounter! But you should know the warning signs, just in case you or your child come in contact with the wrong person.

1 comment:

mel said...

Ugh. Just awful.

I love your new blog. I don't visit much because it makes me so very sad. It is important to know...but still. Sad.

Keep up the good work.