Decades ago as a young mother I worked in a childcare facilty, it was perfect as I could bring my young son. He had fun, I made money, it was a very nice place. I lunched with co-workers and one in particular became a close friend. She was a hoot, funny, loving with the kids and families. We liked going there for work and play.
Late one afternoon I see my friend/co-worker changing a diaper of a child in my son's "room", she was touching the child inappropriately and narrating her actions, it was bizarre and I was stunned. I quickly pulled myself away and replayed what I just saw in myhead, "Was it real? Am I crazy? Am I overreacting? Are my hormones screwed up?" I was pregnant at the time.
I went home after work and didn't say a word, I didn't sleep either. My brain was trying so hard to rework what I had witnessed but it was screaming at me to pay attention. I was determined to go in and do the right thing and speak with a supervisor.
We had studied this in college, I knew it was a sick reality of working with children and there was protocol to be followed to protect the child and the accused.
Next morning I am keeping calm and preparing my talk with the supervisor. The day moves on and my room is next to my son's room with a window connecting the two. My son is being changed after his nap. Oh my God, she is doing it again, to him.
I walk up carefully and calmly say "What are you doing?" she said "Oh they love this isn't it a riot?" Immediately I realize she is not healthy in the slightest and I reply in a very controlled tone, "You know what? I don't think it is a good idea, please stop OK?" She responded with a "Sure" as if I just asked her to hand over a tissue.
My heart is pounding and I cannot think straight but I know I have to keep my composure as I am in a room full of small children and if I want this to be done right I have to be appropriate myself. The co-worker soon leaves the room and her room assistant is there by herself. I call her over to the window and tell her what I just saw, she tells me "Oh yea, I hate when she does that."
My mind is spinning so fast at this point I am dizzy. I tell her, "(name), it is horrible, illegal and it is never happening again. It ends now." She thanks me, apologizes for letting it happen and says she will back up my report with her own, she had been waiting for over a year for someone to notice, she was afraid. For some reason I wasn't scared, not one bit.
This woman never entered that building again. I agreed that if the state authorities made sure she would not get near another child ever again (it would follow her forever, nationally) I would not press charges against the company. I am still comfortable with that decision and have zero hard feelings for the company. I was just relieved to know I had protected the rest of the children, that was enough for me. My son was young and thank God it has not interfered with his life in any way, shape, or form, he has zero recollection of this happening and yes, we have talked about it. Phew.
Soon after this event at work we had a retreat for all of the staff. I was glad to go, clear my head and move forward with my co-workers. Instead I came home with a migraine. During this retreat, 18 out of the 21 of caregivers confessed that they had seen this woman be inappropriate with children verbally and physically. I was so confused.
They sat there and one by one explained how scared they were to report her, they broke down crying, upset with themselves for not protecting the children. It just never occurred to me to not do something. I felt badly for these people but was angry at the same time, you think of the "what-if's". It is the nature of this beast, the victims are afraid, the witnesses are afraid and the predator in my case and the Sandusky case, blind somehow to the consequences of their actions.
My husband and I were so relieved with last night's verdict. We have certainly moved on from our event, we did long ago. But you don't forget and you become sympathetic with those who report, don't report, wait to report, etc. Truthfully, there is not a cure-all for this, as some reports of abuse are untrue as personal vedettas, so we must tread carefully.
The point is this: It can happen easily, it did and until we can somehow scan brains or blood or DNA for this (I will call it an illness), it will happen again. As parents we can only watch our children, know who they are with 24/7, talk to our kids from day 1 about everything and give them the tools to speak up about anything and stand up for themselves.
I realize this is a very heated topic and there will be folks who will disagree with how I handled it, my response to you is we did the best we could and believe me I have checked up on this person through social media and she is not working with children.
Thanks for letting me share. I just felt that the number one question with the Sandusky situation was "How does this happen?" and I was compelled to share for the very first time, which honestly, is scary to do. Go figure.