Is there anything more anxiety-inducing for a parent than dropping their child off at daycare for the first time?

Daycares provide an invaluable service to many families whose primary caregivers have to work long hours to support their young families. However, media reports have drawn attention to horrible incidents where children are being abused by their childcare providers.

Physical and sexual
abuse can have long term, detrimental effects on children. Abuse can take many
forms, the most common forms being sexual, physical, emotional and neglect.


This includes any form of inappropriate or unwanted sexual activity with a minor.  Abusers may manipulate their vulnerable or trusting victims using several tactics. The most common tactic is to convince the victim that the sexual acts are normal. Abusers try to convince the child that the activities are a secret that must be kept between the child and the abuser.

abuse does not necessarily have to be sexual intercourse but may include:

  • Fondling
  • Penetrative
  • Obscene
    phone calls or texts
  • Production
    of pornographic content involving children
  • Masturbation
    in the presence of the child
  • Exhibitionism


Physical abuse is
the non-accidental injury resulting from hitting, whipping, beating, biting,
kicking, or anything that physically harms a child’s body. Sometimes the signs
of physical abuse may be noticeable. But not always!

Parents of
physically abused children must be vigilant about any strange scars or injuries
that a child may have. Parents must be alert to any change in behavioral
patterns of a child such as aggression of a child towards other children, pets
or inanimate objects.


Psychological and
emotional abuse occurs when an abuser’s behavior negatively affects a child’s
mental, psychological or emotional wellbeing. This form of abuse affects a
child’s emotional development. Emotional abuse is falsely perceived to be a lesser
form of abuse compared to physical and sexual abuse.

For this reason,
many victims and survivors of emotional abuse may live for many years before
realising that they had been abused in their childhood.
traits of a victim of emotional abuse may develop attachment issues, anxiety
attacks, speech disorders or poor emotional intelligence.

abuse can include:

  • Unfairly
    making a child feel guilty or responsible for something they naturally have no
    control over such as a divorce, or something minor.
  • Withholding
    love and affection from a child
  • Threatening
    a child
  • Teasing
  • Constant
    and unproportioned criticism of a child


is an action or inaction of a caregiver that results in the physical or
emotional harm of a child. Neglect can be the result of an understaffed daycare
or insufficiently trained staff who may not know how to ensure that your child
always receives their basic needs.

can include:

  • Failure
    to ensure a child has a seatbelt on
  • Leaving
    a child unsupervised in a hazardous or potentially hazardous environment
  • Withholding
    of food or warm clothing
  • Leaving
    a child exposed to poorly stored drugs or alcohol
  • Abandonment

to Look For

So what signs do you look for?

  • Behavioural changes: As we have described above, child abuse can lead to psychological and emotional changes in a child. So, pay attention to any dramatic shift in your child’s personality after attending daycare or a baby sitter.
  • Is your child hungry or
    thirsty? If your loved one is constantly thirsty or hungry when you pick them
    up from daycare it may be a sign that their care providers forgot to provide
    them with water, meals or snacks. This kind of inattention may be signs of
    bigger problems.
  • Nightmares: If your child
    starts experiencing nightmares after attending daycare it may be a sign that
    they are re-experiencing traumatic experiences from their time in care.
  • Regression: Has your child
    suddenly regressed to behaviours they had outgrown like bedwetting, thumb
    sucking, or fear of darkness or being alone?
  • Repeated diaper rash: If your
    baby starts having repeated diaper rashes it may be a sign that the care
    provider has been leaving the child in soiled diapers.
  • Precocious or overt sexual
    behaviour: Children who start acting out in a sexual manner, or showing an
    understanding of sex beyond their age may have been exposed to inappropriate
    sexual contact.

Legal Help Immediately

Silence protects
the abusers. Childhood abuse almost always results in long term psychological,
emotional and physical damage and can cause long term problems in a child’s
future relationships. If you suspect that your child is experiencing physical
abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect you are not alone.

McKiggan Hebert we have earned national recognition for
acting on behalf of victims of abuse. We understand the sensitivity of abuse
and the unique needs associated with it. Order your free copy of our Survivor’s Guide to
Abuse Claims
before hiring another lawyer. Get in touch
with our experienced lawyers at McKiggan Hebert by calling 902-423-2050 or
email us by filling out our contact form.