Who can we count on to protect our children?

According to the Boston Herald.

A troubled teen told DCF workers he played a game in which six toddlers at a Worcester-area home day care touched him inappropriately, but child welfare officials didn’t share that information with all the families, according to the grandmother of two of the boys.The teen — who had been sexually abused in foster care in the past — told investigators with the Department of Children and Families in 2012 he felt “urges” during the game, which he played with all six boys at the day care, and said he asked a 4-year-old boy to touch him when they weren’t playing the game, according to DCF reports provided to the Herald.

“We were never told he played that so-called game with all the boys,” said the grandmother of two toddler boys at the day care. “We should have been told and we weren’t. They were wrong for doing that. They should have been there for every one of those children. Then we could have questioned the boys differently. We could have explained that it was inappropriate.”

DCF opened a probe into the Worcester-area home day care in August 2012 after a child grabbed his father’s crotch — something the 4-year-old told his dad he learned in day care, the report states.

The grandmother said she heard about the father’s complaint but received no other details from DCF. An investigator only asked if “by chance anything happened,” said the grandmother, who told the Herald agency investigators phoned her twice but never showed up in person or followed up after the probe ended.

“It’s hard to ask a 3- or 4-year-old (what happened) without coming out and saying it. We discussed it the best way we could,” she said.

Read the entire story here.

There are so many red flags and issues with this story that it’s hard to keep count:

  1. Children should never be left alone and unsupervised by a child care worker, and especially not in the care of another child.
  2. A child with a history of sexual trauma should never have been put in this situation.
  3. Parents should not blindly trust child care workers (or any youth serving organization), and should verify policies including who has access to their children when they are not with them.
  4. Teaching children the proper names for body parts and concepts such as uncomfortable touch and private areas help parents to find out exactly what happened if something does occur.

Perhaps most disturbing is the handling of this situation by the ones who are supposed to be the experts. When sexual abuse occurs, it’s irresponsible and unconscionable to expect parents  - who are untrained and blindsided by the fact that something may have happened to their kids – to be the fact finders. Where were the forensic interviewers and law enforcement professionals? We can only hope the district attorney’s office will take a closer look into this case.

Unfortunately, when prevention fails on such a monumental scale, only parents have the power to protect their children. The only way to stop these stories from happening is to insist that youth serving organizations have policies and procedures in place to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

For more information on preventing child sexual abuse in your community, visit The 5 Steps to Protecting Our ChildrenTM, or take D2L’s award-winning Stewards of Children® prevention training.

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