SUMMER CAMP ABUSE
Houston Summer Camp Abuse Lawyer
Summer camp can be a wonderful and enlightening experience in a child’s life. Unfortunately, it also poses the risk for child abuse. As terrifying as it sounds, summer camp is an ideal place for abusers. Whether it be religious camps, publicly-funded camps, Boy Scout camps or anything in between, none are immune to the possibility of abuse. If your child has been a victim of abuse at summer camp, contact an experienced attorney immediately. At Reich & Binstock, we know just how serious of a matter this is, and we want to help you and your child recover while holding the abuser accountable. Contact us today to see how we can help.
What is Child Abuse in Texas?
The laws regarding child abuse and how to define it vary from state to state. Generally though, child abuse is a crime by law that refers to any intentional harm or maltreatment to a child below the age of 18. There are many different ways that a child may be abused. These include:
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Medical abuse
Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience for a child, and unfortunately, it occurs more than you might think. In the state of Texas, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Sexual abuse refers to when a child is raped or forced to perform a sexual act. It also occurs when children are used as a means to arouse the abuser. This might mean the abuser is making the child undress, showing the child inappropriate or pornographic material, or fondling a child’s genitals or other body parts.
Children who are victims of physical abuse often obtain temporary injuries but permanent mental ones. Physical abuse to a child occurs when another person (often someone older) intentionally injures them or puts them at risk to be physically injured.
Emotional abuse does not involve physical harm, but can seriously injure a child’s self-worth. It occurs when a person purposely hurts the child’s emotional well-being, either verbally or by ignoring, rejecting, or isolating them.
Medical abuse is a less common form of abuse, but is still just as dangerous. This is when a person intentionally tries to make a child ill. They may purposely place the child in danger as a means to injure them or make them sick, requiring them to receive medical attention.
Child neglect is another form of child abuse. This occurs when the conduct or behavior of the caregiver results in either physical or emotional harm to the child. It can be a result of failing to provide sufficient shelter, food, supervision, affection, education, or medical care.
How Do I Know if a Summer Camp is Safe for my Child?
While no summer camp is immune from the possibility of sexual abuse, there are five steps that parents can take to prevent their child from being a victim of child abuse:
- Educate your child about body parts. Teach your child that someone asking to see their body is never ok to keep a secret. Tell your child that if someone makes them uncomfortable, they should always tell another adult. Make it clean that no matter what anyone else says, they will never get in trouble for reporting. Last, do your absolute best to make sure that no adult is allowed to be alone with your child.
- Screen the camp. Ask about the camp's policies and procedures related to sexual abuse. Specific questions you can ask include: Are criminal background checks performed on all staff members? What training does the staff receive in relation to sexual abuse? Under what circumstances are staff members or older campers allowed to be alone with a camper? Are at least 2 staff members assigned to each cabin? Who is responsible for enforcing camp rules?
- Recognize Potential Groomers. Whenever someone seems to be overly interested in your child, take note. Sexual predators tend to be masters at "grooming" his or her victims.
- Know the Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse. A few warning signs for young children include trouble sitting, awareness of sexual topics, seductive behavior, unprecedented shyness, sleep problems, bedwetting or newfound soiling, expressing concern about genitalia, reluctance or refusal to go back to the summer camp. A few warning signs for sexual abuse in older children include: unusual interest or avoidance of sexual topics, depression, isolation, hostility, secretiveness, seductive behavior, sleep problems, substance abuse, reluctance or refusal to go back to camp.
- Know What You Should Do if You Suspect Abuse. Support your child. Keep your feelings hidden and remain calm. Explain that sexual abuse is never his or her fault. Make sure that your child knows you believe them. Most importantly, praise your child for sharing. Understand that sharing takes a lot of courage for most children.
How Can I Tell if my Child is Being Abused at Summer Camp?
The signs of abuse aren’t always inherently obvious. They can vary widely depending on the type of abuse your child may be experiencing. There are some red flags that parents can look out for, though.
If you notice your child is obtaining unexplained injuries that don’t quite match their explanation, this might be a sign of physical abuse. Pay attention to any marks, bruises, or otherwise physical signs of injury to your child.
You should also pay attention to the behavior of your child. If your child was once very outgoing and you notice them suddenly becoming withdrawn or losing interest in an activity they once loved, this may be an indicator of abuse. He or she may develop a sense of fear for certain places or people in a way to try to avoid exposing themselves to abuse.
Another behavior to look out for is unusual sexual behavior. While it is normal for children going through puberty to be curious about their sexuality and body parts, there are some warning signs that might reflect sexual abuse. If their behavior seems entirely too mature for their age, like age-inappropriate remarks or references, this may be a sign that they were exposed to something indecent and unhealthy. It could also indicate that they may have been molested at some point.
What are the Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children?
- Trouble walking or sitting;
- Seductive behavior;
- Hesitance to get undressed;
- Sleep disturbances;
- Precocious knowledge of sexual topics;
- Reluctance to return to camp;
- Depression or suicidal thoughts;
- Abnormal interest or avoidance of sexual topics;
- Substance abuse;
- Hostility or aggressive behavior;
- Abnormal pain, bleeding, or discharge from genital areas;
- Avoidance of a specific person for no apparent reason.
If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms in your child after returning from camp, encourage them to share with you. Always make sure they know that the abuse was never their fault and that you are proud they had the courage to share. Stress your love and support for them as you work together to recover from this traumatic experience.
Contact the Child Abuse Attorneys At Reich & Binstock Today
If you believe your child has been a victim of summer camp abuse, call our attorneys at Reich & Binstock as soon as possible. We understand this is an urgent situation and we will work to remedy it as soon as possible. Call 713-352-7883 or 877-643-3099 toll free or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation now.
There is a never a fee unless we recover on your behalf.