Workers at a daycare in New Jersey instigated fights between children aged four through six and taped the fights, sharing them on social media and referencing the movie “Fight Club.” The first rule of toddler fight club is IT SHOULD NOT EXIST.
It happened at Lightbridge Academy in Cranford New Jersey. The center issued a statement saying it was “shocked and saddened by this isolated incident.” The two workers accused of encouraging kids to fight are 22-year-old Erica Kenny and 28-year-old Chanese White. Both have been fired and are being arraigned on child abuse charges on Friday.
Prosecutors say the two women instigated fights between children, then taped the fights and uploaded them to Snapchat. NBC New York reports a video from Kenny’s phone “shows at least a dozen kids shoving one another to the ground and attempting to throw punches.” A voice sounding like Kenny’s can be heard encouraging the children to brawl and even referencing quotes from the movie. There have been no serious injuries reported and it appears to have happened only once.
This kind of thing has happened before. Last year, three workers at the Hands of Our Future Daycare in Delaware were arrested after police discovered a cell phone video of the workers encouraging two three-year-olds to fight each other. In that video, one of the kids was heard saying “He’s pinching me!” to which the daycare worker responded, “No pinching. Only punching.” At one point a child is seen running toward one of the workers for help – the worker simply pushes him back towards the fight. Heartbreaking. Another daycare in Ohio had a similar incident last year of daycare workers forcing toddlers to fight and uploading footage to social media.
These kinds of isolated anecdotes are a nightmare for parents who rely on daycare. You are reminded that in most cases you don’t know the people who are charged with taking care of your children — you just have to trust that background checks are thorough and that the daycare you’ve chosen is diligent and careful when choosing its workers.
This isn’t just criminal, it’s a huge betrayal. The workers at my daughter’s daycare rock her to sleep. They feed her. They make her laugh. They are truly wonderful. Imagine the shock and horror of parents subjected to these videos of their children? I have so much sympathy for parents who go through something like this, because I don’t know how I would handle it. I would be in the news. They must want to tear these teachers apart.
Eliana Meira Rantz, a mother who sent her two children to the Lightbridge Academy last year is so traumatized by the events that she’s only working part time and keeping her kids home with her. She told the Inquisitor she and her husband looked at five other daycares before they decided on Lightbridge, “Even though it was more expensive we sent our children there because we wanted our kids to be taken care of.”
Here’s hoping we never hear about something like this again. Three incidents in a year — all in separate daycares? Not okay.