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Child abuse and neglect still an issue at some Virginia daycare centers

When we take our children to daycare and head off to work, we assume they will be safe, protected, happy, and that their needs will be met. After all, daycare centers are licensed, are held to strict regulations and only staff people who have appropriate backgrounds and have a nurturing personality and love to be around kids. Right?

The majority of the time, that is true, and millions of children go to daycare and return home safely each and every day. In some instances, though, the very people we trust with our children are the ones who can hurt them the most. Sadly, daycare providers (whether at a daycare center, preschool, Montessori program or in an individual provider’s home) are no exception, as a recent case out of Woodbridge, Virginia, demonstrates.

In the news

The Woodbridge case involves two women working at a well-known child-care center in the area, Minnieland Academy Daycare. The two were criminally charged with approximately 100 felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from the alleged mistreatment and personal injury of at least three (possibly as many as nine) children during an eight-month period in 2013. The women were indicted on a variety of charges, including felony child abuse, assault, battery, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

According to testimony provided by fellow workers at the daycare and information uncovered by a Virginia Department of Social Services/Child Protective Services investigation, the two women would repeatedly mistreat young children in their care. Allegations against the women include:

  • Feeding toddlers spicy foods just to watch them cry
  • Spraying children who were afraid of water in the face with a powerful hose, then laughing as the children cried
  • Biting one child as punishment for the child having bitten someone else
  • Snapping rubber bands against children’s wrists
  • Rapping children on the hands and knuckles until their skin was red
  • Tripping children to make them fall
  • Purposely stepping on the feet of a child who wasn’t wearing shoes

Ramifications of abuse

In most cases, daycare is a positive experience for children, giving them the opportunity to socialize, providing attention, ensuring their needs for food, clothing and personal care are met and learning through constructive play if appropriate. If, however, things go wrong—like they did at Minnieland Daycare Academy—there are ramifications for the children, like nightmares, fear of strangers, frustration at their inability to express their feelings and developmental setbacks caused by the trauma.

There are also ramifications for those responsible for the abuse and neglect. If their behavior warrants, there are criminal penalties for crimes of child abuse, assault, battery and other related charges. In addition, there may be administrative remedies, like fining the daycare center or taking away a provider’s license. Parents of children who have been abused may also be able to file a civil action against individual caregivers and/or the centers that employed them; these actions can seek compensation for necessary medical bills, psychiatric or psychological treatment, pain and suffering, and other expenses incurred as a result of the abuse.

Has your child been abused by a caregiver? Would you like more information about holding an abuser civilly liable for their actions? If so, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about legal avenues at your disposal.

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