Children & Adolescents Clinic

 Home Parent's Guide

Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Danger Signals of Potentially Abusive Day Care Providers

The overwhelming majority of child care providers are loving, trustworthy people. There are a few, however, who are unfit to care for children.

You may not always be able to detect potential problems before enrolling your child. The warning signals below help provide some clues to possible physical or sexual abuse. Do not jump to conclusions, but do pay attention to your child and look into possible reasons underlying troubling behavior.

Warning signs:

  • Sudden dislike of or reluctance to go to caregiver.
  • Sudden sexual acting out (sexually precocious language, enactment of sexual acts including oral sex).
  • Sudden hesitation over showing or receiving affection.
  • Sudden sleep problems (nightmares, fear of dark or being alone).
  • Regression to baby behaviors (bedwetting, thumbsucking, clinginess).
  • Unusually nervous or aggressive behavior.
  • Caregiver or center does not welcome your unannounced visits.
  • Caregiver or center does not willingly provide the names and numbers of other parents who have children enrolled.
  • Bruises, swollen areas, lacerations or other marks.
  • Implausible explanations by child or caregiver regarding injuries.
  • Anything your child says regarding physically or sexually abusive or inappropriate behavior.

Written by Donna Warner Manczak, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems