Summer Camp Sexual Abuse Attorney
Many children look forward to spending time in summer camps, making contact with old friends, making new ones, and enjoying the pleasure of not worrying about kids' chores at home.
In recent years, the number of sexual assault cases in summer camps has been rather scary. Studies also confirmed that more than half of these assaults went unreported. And in some instances, even if a victim dares to come forward to report the incident, many camp directors turn a blind eye to the complaint.
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC at (888) 424-5757 can help you pursue justice on behalf of a childhood sexual abuse victim in a summer camp. Our sexual abuse lawyers work on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay upfront.
How Common Is Sexual Abuse in Summer Camps?
Every summer, about 10 million youngsters pack their things, bade their parents goodbye, and travel in anticipation of the joys of summer camping. Parents expect them to return home with fond recollections of good times spent with old and new friends.
Unfortunately, some of these innocent children may come home with traumatic recollections of sexual molestation.
A recent CBS News investigation of data on sexually abused children in the US reveals that over 500 allegations of sexual abuse happened in camps over 50 years. Investigators believe that there could be more, as many children who became victims may never come forward to disclose the incident.
The US Department of Health and Human Services also estimated that one out of every four girls and one out of every six boys would-be victims of child sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. Another worrying statistic is that about 91 percent of the time, the family and the victim know the perpetrator.
Sexual Abusers in Summer Camps
Knowing that a child can be a victim of summer camp sexual abuse is quite disturbing. An even more disturbing realization is that many sex offenders and sexual predators see summer camps as an opportunity to carry on with their wrongful motives.
Sex abuse has been reported in various camps, including summer camps, day camps, and overnight camps sponsored by religious organizations and other publicly supported programs.
Given the prevalence of sexual abuse in children and its adverse impact on the victim, summer camp owners must focus on establishing effective abuse prevention programs.
Preventing Sexual Abuse at Summer Camps
Non-profit organizations, schools, and churches sponsor in-person summer camp programs each summer. It’s a fun and productive way for children to spend the summer.
However, given the prevalence of child sexual molestation in summer camps, day camps, and overnight camps, camp owners and parents must have abuse prevention measures.
Role of a Camp Owner in Establishing a Safety System for a Summer Camp
The owners have the duty of care to implement abuse prevention systems to protect campers from child predators. An effective sexual abuse prevention system includes:
- Sexual Abuse Awareness Training for Staff Members. Awareness training plays a key role in reducing the likelihood of camp sexual abuse happening in the camp. Staff members, camp counselors, and other personnel in the organization should take part in an awareness training program every year. The training program is designed to develop skills in identifying predatory behaviors in sex offenders.
- Criminal background checks. Owners and administrators should consider a criminal background check for applicants and their staff as an integral part of their duty of care. In examining an applicant’s criminal records and previous employment, the administrators will be alerted to past criminal behavior.
- Monitoring and oversight of child abuse prevention program. An oversight includes a regular review of the prevention program policies and procedures to ensure effectiveness and applicability.
- Policies and procedures.The camp’s commitment to ensuring the safety of children from sexual abusers is reflected in its existing policies and procedures. For example, it is critical to abide by the screening and background check policies when hiring a camp counselor. Counselors should be trained on what is appropriate behavior and contact towards children.
Role of Parents in the Safety of Children in Summer Camps
Many families express greater awareness and fear of the prevalence of sexual abuse in campsites. Sending their children to summer camps or overnight camps often triggers this fear.
They have valid reasons to fear. According to an article published in Psychology Today, adolescent victims account for over half of all sexual abuse victims.
Are you concerned that your child might become a victim of abuse while at a camp? While no camp is entirely free of the risk of sexual assault, there are preventive measures to protect children from abuse.
Educate about body parts. Teach the child about the correct names of body parts, and use the appropriate terms for vagina, anus, penis, and scrotum.
Let the child know that these body parts are private and that no one should touch them unless for a valid reason, such as during a physical examination with a pediatrician.
It’s not okay to keep a secret. Most likely, molesters would ask a victim to keep the incident a secret. Let your child know it’s never alright to keep a secret, and they must let you or another adult know if someone touches their private parts.
Proper screening. Do your research and ensure that the camp has adopted policies to minimize sexual abuse risks. Some questions to ask include:
- How does the camp perform criminal background checks before hiring a staff member?
- Does the owner or administrator provide staff training about child sexual assault and appropriate ways of having contact with children?
- Does the camp educate campers on what to do if they feel unsafe?
- Is there a system to keep an eye on the behavior of older campers with their younger peers?
- Are there at least two adult counselors tasked to keep watch and sleep in each cabin?
- Who is the person responsible for enforcing rules and regulations in the camp?
- Did the camp comply with the state’s licensing requirements?
Recognized indications of potential abusers. Beware of someone who shows an excessive interest in your child.
Be aware of the warning signs of sexual abuse. Some of the warning signs of a sexually abused child include:
- Sleep disturbance
- Knowledge of sexual activities inappropriate for their age group
- Reluctance to go back to the camp
Know what to do. Steady emotional support of the family can help a sexually abused child cope with the terrifying experience. Remember to:
- Support your child
- Let them know the abuse is not their fault
- Let the child know you believe them
- Praise the child for having the courage to share
Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Childhood sexual molestation has a wide-ranging negative impact on the victim. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexual abuse in children and adolescents experiences short-term and long-term physical, emotional and mental consequences.
Some of these consequences include:
- Physical injuries
- Anxiety and posttraumatic disorder
- Social withdrawal
- Substance abuse
How Can I Report Child Sexual Abuse?
If you suspect abuse, call the local authorities to get help. You should contact and talk directly to the National Sexual Abuse Hotline.
Taking a Stand Against a Negligent Summer Camp Management
The summer camp is in charge of the safety and welfare of children who attend their programs. In line with the vicarious liability doctrine, owners and camp administrators will be held responsible and civilly liable for people's wrongdoing under their authority.
The camp is legally responsible for the supervision of personnel. Therefore, it also carries a shared liability with its staff and counselors. Their failure to uphold a safe environment for all who attend their programs makes the owners and camp administrators liable for civil and criminal charges for any abuse committed by their staff.
Speak to one of our attorneys at Rosenfeld Personal Injury Lawyers LLC if you think the summer camp failed to perform its duty of care. We can take legal action and file civil and criminal cases to ensure that you get the compensation and justice you deserve. Any information you share is kept confidential through an attorney-client relationship.
Compensation and Damages for a Victim of Child Abuse
A civil lawsuit against the sex abuser is a legal action necessary so the victim can receive appropriate compensation for their damages. Summer camp sexual assault victims are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages for their bodily and mental distress.
What Are Compensatory Damages?
Compensatory damages refer to the monetary(medical bills) and non-monetary awards incurred by the victim due to the sexual assault. Compensatory damages include the following:
- Medical expenses for medical treatment
- Current and future expected financial losses
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
Meanwhile, there are factors affecting the compensatory settlement, including the total amount of medical expenses and the severity and duration of pain. Note that some childhood sexual assault victims suffer from broken bones and bruises due to the use of force during the contact.
Can The Sexual Assault Victim Demand Punitive Damages?
The court may also require the defendant to pay for punitive damages, otherwise known as exemplary damage. A sexual assault victim is entitled to receive exemplary damages to compensate them for the sexual assault.
Statute of Limitations and When to File Sexual Abuse Claims
Were you a victim of sexual assault? Or, do you happen to know someone who has been a victim of sexual molestation?
You are probably thinking about whether you can still file a claim even after months or years. Favorably, in Illinois, a victim of sexual assault may file civil lawsuits against the offender even after a significant time has already passed since the assault.
Nonetheless, changes in state laws often complicate things for the plaintiff. It is essential to discuss your complaint with an attorney who can help you file and boost your chance of winning the civil claim.
A Summer Camp Sexual Abuse Lawyer Can Help You
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Personal Injury LLC are compassionate lawyers who want to assist you in pursuing justice if you suspect your child has been a victim of sexual assault at a summer camp. Our sexual abuse attorney will help you determine who’s legally responsible and provide the legal options for your case.
Not only does our law firm want to make summer camps a safer environment for all children, but we also want to guarantee that your child gets justice.
If you suspect abuse, call our legal team at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or this contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our law firm's discussions about your case will remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.