Video surveillance equipment in the home, day care centers, and schools can and do go a long way in identifying abuse and preventing it. When an infant or toddler is being abused or neglected, the child does not have the ability to advocate for himself or herself; however, a video showing such abuse can do the talking for the child. A caregiver should exhibit restraint, love, and patience when supervising a child. Unfortunately, there are far too many instances of abuse and neglect by the very people who are supposed to protect a child – the caregiver.
Parents should be aware of signs of abuse or neglect. An abused child will have frequent, unexplained injuries like bruises, black eyes, or cuts and often wear unusual clothing to hide these marks. A child may seem withdrawn or have very stifled emotional reactions to things, especially pain. An abused child can often seem watchful, as if he or she is waiting for something bad to happen. A neglected child may have bad hygiene, lack proper bathing or have a noticeable body odor. Clothes can be ill-fitting or unwashed. Neglected children are frequently left unsupervised or allowed to play in unsafe situations. These are all indicators of abuse after it has already happened, but there are some methods to obtain proof of abuse.
A “nanny cam” is a webcam or other small camera placed in a parent’s home where they can monitor their babysitter to see if they are taking proper care of the children. These cameras can even be connected to the internet so parents can watch in real-time. Nanny cams are an effective way to gather evidence of a caretaker abusing a child in the event of a criminal or civil lawsuit. While a nanny cam can document abuse, the video / audio content of the nanny cam is not always admissible in a civil or criminal case. The admissibility of such evidence will be determined by the applicable laws in place and the rulings of the judge assigned to the case. The State of Florida is a “two-party consent state,” which means that, if the nanny cam records both video and audio, parents must notify the babysitter that they are going to be recorded. If there is no consent, nanny cam video or audio might be ruled inadmissible in legal proceedings, according to Florida Statute section 934.03. Nonetheless, nanny cams are the among the best ways to show definitive proof of child abuse, especially when the child is unable to properly communicate. When hiring a nanny, it may be advisable to have the nanny sign an employment form which advises the nanny that the home is equipped with audio and video equipment at random parts of the home. While this will give the nanny notice that he or she is being watched, it does not necessary inform the nanny where the equipment is set up. If the parent incorporates this language into a longer document, the nanny may ultimately forget what he or she signed and still engage in abusive conduct that is documented on the video even with knowledge of the equipment in place.
In Florida and other states, day care center related laws require minimal standard or training for staff members. With or without these standards in place, the safety of children warrant this training and more. When selecting a day care center, it is important to find out information as to training, licensure, and prior inspections. Training is needed for all aspects of care from food consumption to sleeping protocols.
Day care professionals are required to receive a certain level of training before they can work at a day care. In the State of Florida, a person must complete 40 hours of training and pass a competency exam, then an additional 10 hours of in-service training. This intensive training is designed to prepare them for any situation that could come their way while watching children. They become familiarized with basic first aid and CPR, as well as making accommodations for children with allergies or special needs children. There is even more training that must be taken if a caretaker intends to work with children under 24 months. This includes understanding safe sleeping practices to prevent SIDS, general head trauma prevention, and brain development. In short, training for day care providers is meant to keep the children enlisted in the day care as safe as possible.
If this training is not received, the results can be disastrous. A child can get seriously hurt or killed if in the care of an improperly or inadequately trained person. While this situation would likely result in the shutting down of the day care, this does not ameliorate the pain suffered by bereaved parents In order to avoid this, parents should take care to research the day care they intend to send their children to. Just a few hours of online browsing, reading, and related training could save their child’s life.
During the summer months, children get a break from school and and are able to the enjoy the outdoors, swimming, sports, summer camp, and other activities. With these activities, there are risks. Children, especially toddlers and infants, lack basic safety awareness. Elementary school aged children, pre-teens, and even teens do not always recognize the danger of certain activities and situation. As such, it is important for adults, caregivers, counselors, teachers, and others responsible for the care and supervision of children to be mindful of the risks for many summer activities. When a child is injured, the most important thing to do is to get the child out of harm’s way and then address the medical needs of a child. When a child is injured due to the negligence of others, there may be a legal remedy and right to compensation for the injured child. While the pursuit of justice and the enforcement of legal rights are important concepts, it is also important to exercise due care and supervision to begin with so that injuries are avoided. With summer activities, the safety of the child is paramount to other concerns and issues.
In the summer, children will often go swimming. Because of this, pool safety should be the priority for parents, caregivers, teachers, counselorse, and pool owners. More than 1,000 children each year die from drowning and countless others suffer life-altering injuries. The majority of drowning accidents happen in home swimming pools. Of these drownings, most of these could have been prevented had a gate been installed around the pool. Pool gates should be at least four feet tall and be out of the reach of a small child. If your child is swimming, you should be in the pool with them, or supervising from a close distance. Supervision should involve having your eyes on the phone and the child rather than your eyes on a mobile phone, TV, or tablet.
Another potential danger to children this summer is a treehouse. Almost 3,000 children are sent to the hospital every year for treehouse related injuries; anywhere from bumps and bruises to cuts from broken glass and strangulation from rope. Due to the number of risks, a parent should take special care when constructing and allowing a child to play in a treehouse. They should build it low to the ground, no higher than ten feet. The treehouse needs solid barrier walls. And, if children are playing in the treehouse, they should be supervised.
There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, schools, and other facilities. The common danger is in the form of window blinds. There are injury risks associated with window blind cords including those related to bruises, cuts, scrapes, and most significantly strangulation. While it is well known and widely reported that window blind cords represent a significant risk to small children, reports of injuries continue to take place because safety precautions were not taken by the applicable child care provider.
It is estimated that approximately 17,000 children under the age of six years old were admitted to a hospital between the time period of 1990 and 2015 due to window blind related personal injuries. The same report estimated that one child per month died as a result of window blind cord strangulation during this time period. Toddlers and small children have poor safety awareness. As such, what appears to be fun to a toddler can actually pose a significant danger. The report on window blind injuries gathered together data from emergency rooms. As such, there are most likely more injuries that took place than were part of this study.
While there have been proposals and recommendations by the United States Product Safety Commission as to standards to make cords covered and / or unreachable by children, these recommendations have not been approved or placed into law as of yet.
In the State of Florida, it is a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle that is turned off. Pursuant to Section 316.6135, Florida Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes. It is a felony if the child suffers significant bodily harm, permanent injury, or disfigurement as a result of being left unattended in the vehicle. It is also a misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle that is still running if the health of the child is put at risk OR the child appears to be in distress.
The statute as it currently reads is a bit troublesome in that a child can suffer serious personal injuries or even death by being left in a hot car or day care center van in less than 15 minutes. Some lawmakers in the State of Florida are pushing for changes to this legislation / Florida law to better protect children and to serve as a reminder to parents, guardians, caregivers, and day care centers to stop putting children at risk by leaving children in a vehicle.
David Wolf – Personal Injury Attorney – is based in Jacksonville, Florida and handles child injury, automobile accident, day care center, and related cases throughout the State of Florida. He is the author of 11 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. You can get these books for free by visiting the Personal Injury Book Section of the Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. Law Firm Website.