Sheriff Mike Tregre asks:

""With millions of double-income households, more and more families have turned to day care as a primary means of child care. When parents entrust the welfare of their child in another’s hands, they expect them to be cared for just as they would be cared for at home. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.

Although most day care centers are safe and reliable, child abuse can occur. Are children and parents helpless if a potentially dangerous situation were to arise? According to Sheriff Mke Tregre, no one is helpless and suggests that education is the best defense when it comes to day care safety.

Learning that one’s child has been physically violated is one of the most helpless emotions a parent can experience. Every year thousands of children are sexually abused by their child care providers. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for parents to recognize child violators because they do not fit the stereotypical mold of what one would expect.

Research indicates that sexual and physical abuse are most often times committed by individuals acquainted with the child, and who have gained their trust and affection.

"Upon learning that one’s child has been victimized, it is vitally important that parents communicate with their children," said Sheriff Tregre. "In order for law enforcement to be effective, it is important that all the facts are present. If a parent is understanding and expresses belief in their child, they will probably be more comfortable discussing the incident in detail."

Physical and sexual abuse in a day care setting can happen to any child. It’s difficult for parents to shelter children from the countless dangers they may encounter while growing up. However, Sheriff Jones has some advice for parents to consider when they suspect their child has been victimized and some suggestions on how to prevent it from occurring.

If you suspect your child has been victimized:
Contact the authorities. Although this may be an uncomfortable incident to report, you have the power
       to prevent it from happening to someone else’s child.
 If your child tells you of a sexually inappropriate incident, support his/her decision to tell the story.
       Often, a child molester or exploiter will tell the victim that no one will believe their story and that
       bad things will happen to them if they do tell.
 Seek therapy. This is a crucial step in beginning the healing process. It helps the child to understand
        that he/she is not to  blame.

When selecting a day care:
 Familiarize yourself with other personnel in the facility. Discuss the child’s behavior with them on a
        regular basis.   Sometimes an outsider may notice peculiarities that a parent might be inclined to
 Talk to your children about inappropriate touching.
 Make unannounced visits to the day care facility.
 Talk to your child about what happens to them if they break the rules. Are they punished by being sent
        to another room?

Are they isolated from the other children?
 Make sure that the day care center conducts background checks on new hires.
 Check to see that child play areas are in an open space and visible at all times.
 Talk to other parents whose children attend the center.

Sheriff Tregre said, "Parents have the right and power to prevent child and sexual abuse in day care facilities. The best defense is education and vigilance, and the best reward is knowing that you have placed your child in a safe environment."