Daycare safety starts at home, says psychologist

A child psychologist in Moncton says keeping children safe at daycare starts in the home.

Parents must watch for warning signs of abuse, says Charles Emmrys

A child psychologist in Moncton says keeping children safe at daycare starts in the home.

Charles Emmrys says it's vital for parents to watch their children for any warning signs of abuse.

"When the child for example is having bathroom problems, when the child is not sleeping well, when the child is moody, when you see a personality shift in the child all of a sudden, they're quieter, they're not as communicative, they're not as playful,  they're isolating themselves — those are clear signs that the child is stressed and you have to do something about it," he said.

"The child will generally tell you by saying, 'I don't want to go.' The 'I don't want to go' should be interpreted as, "Mom, dad, there's something going on. I can't explain it to you, but you should check it.'"

Several daycare operators in the province have faced charges in the last few months. The most recent case involves a couple from Notre-Dame who face five sex-related charges.

Hedwidge Surette, 63, and Ronald Gaudet, 64, are scheduled to appear in Moncton provincial court this week for a bail hearing on charges of sexual interference, sexual assault, invitation to sexual touching, sexual assault by more than one accused against a single victim and forcible confinement.

Emmrys says it's important to start telling children the difference between appropriate, and inappropriate touching as early as three years old.

When choosing a daycare, parents should focus less on qualifications and more on asking the right questions.

"What can I do as a parent to be involved in this daycare? What provisions have you made to involve me in the daycare? Do I know your routines? Do I know what your schedules of activities are? Do I know of the kinds of places you'll visit with the children? How will you ensure safety of my child from place to place?"

The most important question, said Emmrys, is whether they daycare is open to drop-by visits. If it isn't, that should serve as a red flag, he said.