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How Can Negligent Supervision of Children Affect a Sexual Abuse Case?

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The sexual abuse of a child is one of a parent’s worst nightmares, but even more so if it happened when the child was supposed to be under the careful supervision of someone else. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Supervisory Neglect?

Supervisory neglect is a situation in which an adult that is responsible for a child does not take adequate care to prevent the child from being harmed or doesn’t have someone else supervise the child to prevent harm. For example, a youth coach is responsible for a child on the team but leaves the child alone with an assistant coach, who assaults the child. The coach is negligent in their supervision of the child, and the child is harmed due to the negligence.

What Is Sexual Abuse or Assault of a Child?

Any sexual act that a minor can’t understand or isn’t old enough to legally consent to (in Pennsylvania, the legal age of consent is 16 and older) can be considered sexual abuse or assault. It can involve genital or anal intercourse as well as fondling, touching what’s considered to be private parts, oral-genital contact, the abuser exposing themselves to the child or having the child expose themselves, or the abuser forcing the child to view pornographic materials, whether in print or on a video.

How Common is Sexual Abuse of a Child?

Unfortunately, it’s more common than most people know. Studies show that as many as one in five girls and one in twenty boys will be sexually abused by the time they’re 18 (the age of consent in some states). Even more troubling is that more than 90% of minors who are sexually abused know their abuser–meaning it’s not a “stranger danger” issue, but quite possibly a supervisory neglect situation.

What Can I Do Legally if My Child Was Sexually Abused While in Someone Else’s Care?

You can take legal action directly against the abuser (and in fact, are legally required to report it–see more below). This often involves making a report to law enforcement who will pursue a criminal case. However, abusers generally do not have assets to pay significant restitution or damages for emotional distress. If you suspect that abuse happened because someone else was negligent in their supervision of your child, contact us immediately. These are complex cases that need research and investigation to determine if negligent supervision was involved, and if so, to proceed legally against organizations who may be responsible for allowing the abuse.. Working with an experienced, knowledgeable child sexual abuse or assault attorney is highly recommended.

What Are Signs That My Child Might Have Been Sexually Abused ?

Sadly, many children who are sexually abused are afraid to tell anyone, especially since they’re likely to know the abuser. The abuser may also threaten them with further punishment if they tell anyone. If a parent suspects something has happened, they will likely have to talk to the child rather than wait for the child to say something. If a parent doesn’t know how to begin this conversation or isn’t sure of the best way to go about it, reaching out to a pediatrician or pediatric therapist is advised.

Here are some of the signs that a child may have experienced sexual abuse or assault.

Physical signs, such as unexplained bleeding or bruising, or blood stains on bedding or clothing. Another physical sign is if a child appears to be unusually uncomfortable around their genital, such as scratching at them. A doctor should be seen to see if a sexually transmitted infection is present or other signs of injury due to sexual abuse or assault.

Behavioral and emotional signs. There are many.

  • Talks less than usual or seems to be keeping secrets.
  • Doesn’t want to be left alone with certain people (especially if this is a new symptom).
  • Falls back into old behaviors such as bedwetting or thumbsucking.
  • Personality changes, especially increased worry or fear, or decreased interest in things like friends, favorite activities, or school. There can also be increased aggression, signs of self-harming, decreased self-confidence, or unusually compliant behavior.
  • Change in eating habits, whether eating more or less than usual.
  • Unusual number of stomachaches and headaches.
  • Increase in nightmares or fear of being alone at night.
  • Unusual talk or knowledge about sexual concerns or sexual behavior that’s not usually seen for that child’s age group.

What Should I Do if My Child Was Sexually Abused While in Someone Else’s Care?

Call Andreozzi & Foote at 866-311-8640 for a free confidential consultation. We understand what a horrifying situation this is to you and why you want a legal remedy. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable sexual abuse attorneys can guide you through the process of litigating this complex situation. We’ll work with you compassionately and take your confidentiality concerns seriously. Our goal is to get the best possible outcomes so you and your child can move forward.

One of the first things that needs to be done is to report the abuse to the police. This can be a stressful action, and we’re here to help. Pennsylvania law requires suspected child abuse of any kind to be reported, and while it can be intimidating, especially if the child and parents know the abuser, this is the first step to getting justice for the child.

We know many parents have concerns about legal action, especially whether or not the child would have to face the abuser in the courtroom. The courts are sensitive to this concern, and we can work with you to avoid that if possible. Call us today for more information about how we can help.

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