Injury Law Alert - Spring 2011 Issue
Hemmings & Stevens, PLLC Law Firm of Raleigh, NC
DAY CARE CAN BE A DANGEROUS PLACE
It is an unfortunate fact that those most vulnerable and least able to protect themselves are often the ones at the highest risk for abuse or neglect. Elderly persons confined to nursing homes, the mentally ill and the mentally challenged, and the very ill are often targets for abuse or the victims of neglect because they are least able to protect themselves. To this list, we can add one more group: children in day care. While the vast majority of day care facilities and day care providers are trustworthy and responsible, cases of abuse or neglect do occur.
The good news is that such abuse or neglect is usually preventable. Before enrolling a child in day care, be sure to visit the facility. It may be a good idea to drop by without an appointment, so you can see how the center operates when it is not expecting outside visitors. Make sure parents are welcome in all areas of the facility and that it does not have any "no go" areas. Ask whether criminal background checks are performed on all of its employees and volunteers, and ask whether other, noncriminal issues such as drug abuse or emotional problems are screened for.
Ask how discipline is handled at the day care facility - when children may be disciplined, by whom, and how. Make sure that the children being cared for appear to be relaxed, happy, and engaged in constructive activities such as learning or play.
You may also want to take steps to guard your child against dangers that could occur outside the facility itself. If the children are taken on field trips, check to see whether the transportation is safe and find out how many adults typically accompany the children to ensure that everyone returns unharmed.
Find out what the day care center's policies are about having children picked up at the end of the day and who will be allowed to claim your child. It is a good idea to identify, in writing, who is allowed to take your child from the facility. Find out what will be done if your child becomes seriously ill while at the day care facility, and what steps will be taken if the facility cannot get in touch with you immediately.
Additional steps should be taken to ensure that your child is not the victim of intentional abuse (as opposed to neglect) while he or she is at the day care facility. When you visit, check to see that the bathrooms do not contain areas where children can be isolated, and find out how the facility handles toileting issues. Approximately two thirds of all cases of child sexual abuse at day care facilities occur in the bathroom. Also make sure that children are well supervised during naptime. Day care providers will sometimes leave the room when the children are sleeping, increasing the opportunities for someone to abuse a child.
It is important that any contact between the children and those not working at the facility is strictly supervised. Abuse often is not the work of the day care teacher but of those not directly involved in caring for the children, such as bus drivers, janitors, and relatives of those who operate the day care center. One study suggests that as many as one third of reported abuse incidents occur in the hands of the day care provider's family members who do not actually work for the day care center.
Keep your eyes open for the warning signs of abuse or neglect. If you suspect that your child has been abused or neglected at a day care facility, it is important to act promptly. If your child is old enough, try talking with him or her to find out what happened, keeping in mind that children are sometimes not entirely reliable sources of information. You might also contact other parents who use the same day care facility and ask whether they have noticed any of the same signs of abuse or neglect in their children as you have seen in yours. If you still suspect something is wrong, contact the local authorities or, if the matter is very serious and places your child or others in immediate danger, call 911.
If the investigation reveals that abuse or neglect has occurred, call our office. We know how important your children are. We will go to work for you to get you everything you deserve under the law AND to prevent the same problem from happening to someone else.
Unexplained bruises or other injuries, especially if recurring.
Frequent crying before the child is taken to day care.
Unusual emotional behavior, ranging from complete emotional withdrawal to being overly "clingy" or extremely fearful.
Bleeding or bruising around the genitals or the child's asking to wear additional layers of unnecessary clothing to day care.
DRUG RECALLS: A FLAWED SYSTEM
FDA Lacks Recall Authority
Questions about drug safety have been in the news a lot recently in connection with the massive recall of millions of tainted bottles of Benadryl, Motrin, and Tylenol. The federal agency charged with the responsibility for ensuring that prescription and nonprescription drugs sold in the United States are safe to use is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, despite being responsible for drug safety, the FDA lacks what to many seems like a very basic power: the ability to force a drug company to recall dangerous or tainted drugs.
We help injured persons seeking compensation for their injuries. We represent individuals and small businesses with insurance claims that have been denied or other contract disputes. We DO NOT represent insurance companies or big business.