Q: The husband of my child’s home daycare provider has been charged with child sexual abuse. My child appears unaffected. The alleged abuser seems like a nice person. Should I withdraw my child or assume the allegations are false and allow my child to remain?
A: There are a number of variables in this question. First, if charges have been laid, police and Children’s Aid must be involved. If they have closed down the day care there is no further discussion.
If the day care remains open that would be because authorities have confidence that the accused will not be near the children, either because he is incarcerated or has been ordered to stay away. In the latter, you have to decide whether you trust the day care provider to not allow the abuser near the children even if she does not believe the allegations.
In deciding, it is helpful to have some knowledge of child sexual abuse and how it occurs. First, it is important to know that those who sexually abuse children do not look evil. If it were obvious that they were a danger to children, they would be far less likely to have the opportunity to abuse children. They generally are pleasant people who get along with children and are well liked. Secondly, it is a misnomer to believe that abusers have to be alone with their victims in order to abuse. Many children are sexually abused with others in the same room, completely unaware. This adds to the power and control element inherent in abuse.
Lastly, abusers often abuse many victims before they are stopped so the fact that he has not previously been caught does not suggest the allegations are not true. Children rarely lie about these incidents and abuse investigators know how to evaluate the level of detail and consistency to assess the veracity of the allegations.
While child sexual abuse is very damaging, the societal response will determine the ultimate impact on the child. With this information I hope that you can make the best choice for your family.