As a work-at-home-mom, I rely on a Mother’s Helper for a few hours each day to make sure my toddler is safe, nurtured, well-fed, and gets her nap on time. One of my biggest fears is her suffering emotional or physical harm at the hands of an abusive or neglectful caregiver. She is too young to verbally express if someone is doing her wrong.
It is very difficult to find and retain good help at home, though the benefits of having her near me are great. I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful helpers over the last couple of years, but I know in-home help doesn’t make sense for everyone’s lives, and no mother can be with her child 100% of the time.
If you’re anything like me, you do worry about what’s happening to your child when they’re in the care of another person. Even trusted, experienced professionals are not always perfect. Recently, I saw a news report about an Autism therapist abusing a young child during a “session.” There was video footage of the incident; it was disturbing to say the least. Thank goodness the parents had suspicions and investigated.
So, what are some signs that a child is being abused by a caregiver?
- Unexplained bruises or wounds, especially in the shape of an object or body part.
- Extreme hunger upon arriving back in your care, or development of an eating disorder.
- Unusual hostility or behavior before or after care by a certain person.
- Increasing fear of adults.
- Changes in school performance/grades.
- Being extremely dirty or inappropriately dressed after being with caregiver.
- Unusual inappropriate or sexual behavior toward peers or adults.
- Changes in overall mood or emotional health.
And, obviously, if your child tells you someone is hurting or neglecting them in some way, you should take it seriously!
These are not the only red-flags of abuse, but simply some common ones. If you’re mama-radar is going off, please trust your gut! It’s better to be safe than sorry.
What to do:
If you suspect your child is being abused in some way, please do not place them back into the care of that person! Seek immediate help from your local police station, or call 1.800.4.A.CHILD. It’s a 24-hour hotline, and they can help guide you through investigating and reporting any suspected child abuse.