Two South Carolina daycare teachers face multiple charges for allegedly directing 3 and 4-year-olds in their care to fight each other and “allow[ing] the violence to proceed without correction,” police said.
Kids Unlimited of Prosperity day care employees Ericka Jones, 27, and Serena Caldwell, 56, turned themselves in to authorities on Thursday after warrants were issued for their arrest, per the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office.
Both are charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful conduct to a child, according to the department’s Friday press release. Jones faces 14 counts of each charge, while Caldwell faces 15.
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Daycare owner John David Dawkins wrote in a statement provided to local outlet WIS-TV that Jones and Caldwell were “immediately terminated” after staff reported their behavior and security footage was viewed.
The facility immediately notified the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Lee Foster told WLTX the daycare had cooperated fully in their subsequent investigation.
Investigating deputies discovered that the two women instructed children to shove, pull and hit each other, per the outlet.
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Foster told WLTX that the behavior “started out with [Caldwell and Jones] saying the teacher had promoted other students or other clients of the daycare, to use violence to try to punish a child or make another child compliant.”
“I have no idea what the two daycare workers were thinking of – that was just abhorrent behavior,” Foster continued. “I just can’t imagine why you would do this.”
A total of 14 children were involved, Foster said – per WLTX they were between three and four years old.
Although none had serious physical injuries, Foster said, it remains unseen “how much emotional or psychological damage could have been caused by this.”
A parent of one of the victims, who WLTX did not name, testified that their child was told to hit another child, then told to do it again.
Foster told WIS-TV that the two women were “rogue employees” and that the department does not believe the daycare was complicit in their behavior.
A parent of one of the victims told the outlet that she didn’t believe that the problem was systemic and said that she “hate[d] that these two women kind of tarnished the name of this daycare.”
“But at the same time, I’m glad it was caught and they will have to serve justice. But at the end of the day, there’s no real justice because how do you remove that from a child’s head?” the woman asked. “You’ve altered their life.”
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