Overhead view of a young girl covering her face and crying in a school yard.

Texas children should return from summer camp boisterous and refreshed by the STEM activities, crafts, songs, and new friendships. Yet, at least a dozen a year become quiet, withdrawn, and lethargic. The happy-go-lucky child parents once knew suddenly loses all joy in activities they used to love.

Children can react in a variety of ways. They may become moody or aggressive. They may play with toys, mimicking sexual behaviors, or talk obsessively about one of the older campers or counselors. They may treat the body as dirty, shameful, and disgusting– not wanting to get undressed to bathe or use the toilet– or avoid certain people and places.

Sometimes these subtle behavioral changes are the only clues parents have to realize something is wrong. One in three children cannot disclose what happened at the time. They may suffer in silence for months, years, or even decades before coming forward about sexual assault.

Texas parents who know or suspect their child has been abused at summer camp can confide in a Dallas sexual abuse victim lawyer at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP. We offer free consultations and contingency-based legal representation to anyone who may be interested in filing a civil lawsuit. You don’t have to wait until your child turns 18 to seek retribution. Your child may be entitled to financial compensation to cover medical bills, a lifetime of counseling expenses, vocational training, lost future wages, and an estimated amount for pain and suffering.

What To Do If Your Child Discloses Camp Sexual Abuse

You may not know how to react or what to say, but start by conveying these crucial messages:

  • “I believe you.” A study by Australia’s Child Protection Council found 98 percent of child statements in sexual abuse cases to be true.
  • “What happened is not your fault.” Self-blame is a coping mechanism some children rely upon to get through the crisis. While trying to answer the “how” and the “why,” your child may conclude: I must be a terrible person. I must deserve this. The perpetrator may have, at some point, reinforced these notions, too. Children may mistakenly believe: Our relationship was special, or I must have secretly wanted this.
  • “I love you, no matter what.” Children often remain silent because they fear losing their parents’ approval, destroying the family, or causing trouble. A parent’s support is one of the most powerful predictors of a child’s recovery from sexual trauma. Therefore, it is imperative that you tell your child you love them many times during the healing process.
  • “Thank you for telling me, so I can keep you safe and take care of you.” Fear can be a powerful impediment to eliciting good testimony. Remind your child that keeping them safe is a top priority.
  • “Is there anything else you can tell me to help me understand what happened?” Avoid asking leading questions or putting words in your child’s mouth. Be patient and let your child lead the conversation. Most kids minimize, dissociate, or distance themselves from trauma.
  • “I will do everything I can to stop the abuse from happening again.” Reassuring your child that there is action that can be taken to keep them safe– will help them in their recovery.

Take action by contacting a Dallas personal injury attorney for a free legal consultation. Here you will learn about local resources to help you and your child. You will have a legal advocate to protect your interests when dealing with the authorities and medical providers. Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP has a team of investigators who will begin working immediately to find out what happened, corroborate details of the allegation, secure evidence, and line up experts and eyewitnesses who could provide compelling testimony. In civil court, we need only prove that your child’s story is “more likely than not to have happened.”

Other Steps to Take After the Summer Camp Sexual Abuse of a Child

In addition to contacting a personal injury lawyer, you may also choose to report suspected child abuse to the local Child Protection Agency or police department. In some cases, it may be necessary to file criminal charges against the abuser, as well as pursuing civil charges against the summer camp operator. The responding agency will help you connect with the District Attorney’s office to pursue punishment for the offender if there is enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact your child’s pediatrician to get a referral to a local hospital who has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). Of course, most abuse leaves little permanent physicalscars. The Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center is an excellent resource for addressing the mental and emotional scars. An advocate there can work with your legal team, interviewing your child about what happened, while taking special care to protect their mental health in the aftermath.

It’s a good idea for family members who are aware of the situation to seek mental health counseling for feelings of anxiety, guilt, powerlessness, fear, anger, and depression. Eating healthy, exercising, and reserving time for stress-relieving activities are essential as you cope with what has happened.

Contact our team of Dallas Sexual Assault Victim Lawyers for a confidential, free consultation

Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP relies on a contingency fee agreement in cases of child sexual abuse. Through this model, you do not pay a fee for our services unless we recover a settlement or jury award on your behalf. This way, you can pursue top legal representation from an award-winning personal injury attorney without worry.

We are here to answer any questions you may have, any time, 24/7. Even if you ultimately choose not to file a lawsuit, you will understand the full scope of options available to your family in this difficult time.