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How to detect whether a child is a victim of sexual abuse

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CEDARBURG (WITI) -- The state of Wisconsin has shut down a Cedarburg daycare center after learning of allegations of sexual assault reportedly occurring at the center. As the investigation continues, FOX6 News on Tuesday, April 23rd spoke with a doctor about how to go about detecting whether your child is a victim of sexual assault.

The Family Tree Learning Center on Washington Avenue in Cedarburg was shut down on Friday, April 19th after Cedarburg police officials investigated a report of sexual contact taking place between an adolescent and a young child who attended the center.

According to the Cedarburg Police Department, parents of children attending the center met on Saturday with representatives from the Department of Human Services Child Protection Division and the Children's Center at Children's Hospital.

During that meeting, additional possible victims were identified.

On the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website, the daycare has been cited for numerous violations, including one in March of 2013 where several hazards were noted during a visit by the department. Of those, a power drill was lying out in an area where children would walk through. Also, the preschool nap room was so dark, it was difficult to see children on the floor or staff at the table.

In November 2011, a staff person was observed with her legs crossed over a three-year-old child who was lying on the floor -- in order to restrain his movement.

Many of the other violations included not filing the proper paperwork that is required by law.

Kimberely Berens is the licensed provider for the center, and hung up on FOX6 News when she was contacted by phone. No one answered the door at a residence in Grafton where she is listed to reside.

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families says Family Tree voluntarily turned in its license on Monday.

As the investigation continues, Dr. Alice Swenson with Children's Hospital provided some insight as to how parents go about detecting a daycare-aged child is a victim of sexual abuse.

"If a child is starting to regress in terms of their toileting for example, or starting to act out in a more hostile way and even have highly-sexualized behaviors then that's a time that parents might want to do something like consult their doctor. I tell families that they should say there's no secrets in families -- so to share information with them. If someone asked you to keep a secret from mom and dad, that's when you need to come and tell mom and dad," Dr. Swenson said.

For verbal children, Dr. Swenson says it is a good idea to ask general questions about the people at daycare and whether there is something they want to talk about.

"I think you just need to be very aware and alert to the way your child is behaving and look out for changes," Dr. Swenson said.