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What if a Child is Abused or Molested by Another Child in a Day Care Center?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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A day care center should be a safe haven for children. It should be a place where children learn and play in a supportive and nurturing environment. Certainly, a child should be free from abuse, neglect, and molestation while under the supervisionb of the day care center. For licensed day care centers, background checks are typically required. This helps weed out prospective employees with a troubled past including a criminal history of abuse and / or molestation. Furthermore, day care center workers should be trained and prepared to meet the needs of all the children enrolled in the child care facility. Unfortunately, for some children at day care centers, there are days filled with abuse and molestation. Some incidents result from carelessness, negligence, and inattention of the day care center staff. Some incidents are caused by hands of the very workers charged with the responsibility of caring for the children. Other incidents are child on child incidents. Yes that’s right, some children are abused, neglected, and / or molested by their classmates. When incidens like these area, I am asked by parents as a Child Injury Lawyer the following question:

Is a day care center legall liable or responsible when a child is abused, neglected, molested by another child in the same day care center?

Well, answer to this question like many other legal question is as follows: It depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. As a general statement, a day care center is not liable for every single incident that takes place within the facility. However a day care center is responsible for those incidents that are foreseeable and/or preventable with due care, attention, and supervision.

For instance, let’s say children are seated in the classroom. It is a class of 4 year olds and the facility has met the proper census and staffing requirements. While seated in the classroom, one child grabs the other child in a matter of seconds in the private parts. This was an isolated incident that did not happen before to another student by the aggressive student. The teacher or day care center worker was 20 feet away, observed the incident, and took immediate action. Under this fact scenario, it would not appear that there would be a viable case to pursue because the incident took place in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, there is no history of abuse or neglect regarding the aggressive child. Proper supervision was in place. In summary, there does not appear to be any lack of supervision or action on the part of me day care center worker for the facility.

Let’s look at another hypothetical situation. A 12-year-old child is left alone for one hour with a three-year-old child. The 12-year-old child a history of behavioral problems The 12-year-old was aggressive with other children in the day care setting. There is no day care center workers in the room or even within hearing distance of the two childrenfor this extended time period. Tragically, the molestation took place over a period of month without any detection or action on the part of the day care center. The State agency came in, investigated the incident, and cited the facility for a lack of supervision and inadequate staffing. Under this fact scenario, there would be a viable case to pursue. Of course, this is a just one example of many incidents that may form a basis for a civil case for compensation against the day care center. It is not required that an incident take place more than once or that the facility is cited by the State agency. However, these would be good facts to have for a case. Each potential case should be evaluated on its own facts and merits.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Day Care Center Injuries, School Injuries, Child Abuse, Sports Related Injuries, Playground Injuries, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.