Two teachers at a daycare centre in US South Carolina have been charged with encouraging children to fight and then not making any efforts to stop the violence. Police said Serena Caldwell, 56, and Ericka Jones, 27, would direct three and four-year-olds in their care to slap, pull and kick each other.
The fights between the children were caught on cameras, and the daycare owner said that both Caldwell and Jones were fired immediately after other staff lodged a complaint and security footage was viewed.
Sheriff Lee Foster told news site WLTX that 14 children between the ages of three and four were involved. He said the two accused would often tell a child that the centre had promoted someone else. This would then lead to a clash between the children, where Jones and Caldwell “allowed the violence to proceed without correction,” police said.
“It was a situation where they were participating in it by encouraging the kids, and they kind of looked at it as something maybe almost equivalent to a sporting event where they were kind of trying to motivate the kids into participating in that,” Sheriff Lee Foster said.
“I have no idea what the two daycare workers were thinking of – that was just abhorrent behavior. I just can’t imagine why you would do this,” he added.
A parent of one of the victims told local media that their child was told to hit another child, and then told to do it again.
Both the police and parents of the victims said that the fight ring wasn’t systematic at the daycare and only the two “rogue employees” were responsible.
Ericka Jones and Serena Caldwell have turned themselves in to the police and will be tried on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful conduct to a child.