According to the American Camp Association, there are around 5,000 day camps in operation in the United States. By and large, these camps offer an opportunity for children to learn more about specific topics, such as sports, science, and the great outdoors, enriching their lives while providing a safe place to spend summer days. For others, however, the experience will forever be tainted by the abuse they experience from counselors.
A national report from 2018 found that hundreds of credible claims of sexual abuse had been filed against various summer camps over 50 years. Experts agree that likely hundreds, if not thousands more went unreported during this time. If you plan on sending your child to a day camp, it is important that you take all steps possible to help them avoid being a victim.
Before signing your child up for a camp, make sure you have screened it fully. This includes knowing who runs the camp, what kinds of background checks they perform on staff, the experience staff is required to have, and how things like bathroom breaks are handled.
Ask questions. Read reviews. Talk to other parents. Make sure you are completely confident in the camp.
Before sending your child to camp, talk to them about their body parts. Educate them on what is and is not appropriate touch, and make sure they know how to identify questionable adult behavior.
Let your child know that it is absolutely okay to say “no” to adults, even those they perceive as being in positions of authority, and that it is okay to do so loudly when needed. Prepare your child with safety rules and help them understand what to do if they feel unsafe.
And lastly, know the warning signs of abuse. If your child has unexplained injures, inexplicable changes in behavior, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, or regressive behavior, talk to your child to learn what is happening. If you have reason to suspect abuse or if your child is able to relay their experience, get help immediately from a local sexual assault service provider such as RAINN – and call our office to learn about your legal options and rights.
The Cifarelli Law Firm fights for children who are victims of sexual abuse in Los Angeles and all surrounding areas of California. Please call our office at 949-502-8600 to schedule a free and confidential consultation right away.
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