Two South Carolina daycare teachers face multiple charges for allegedly ordering 3- and 4-year-old children in their care to fight and “allowing the violence to continue without correction.” police said.
Ericka Jones, 27, and Serena Caldwell, 56, employees of the Kids Unlimited of Prosperity daycare, turned themselves in to authorities Thursday after warrants were issued for their arrest, according to the County Sheriff’s Office. Newberry.
Both are charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful conduct toward a child, according to the department’s statement released Friday.
Jones faces 14 counts on each charge, while Caldwell faces 15.
Daycare owner John David Dawkins wrote in a statement provided to local news outlet WIS-TV that Jones and Caldwell were “immediately fired” after staff reported their behavior and security footage was viewed.
The facility immediately notified the South Carolina Department of Human Services and the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Lee Foster told WLTX the daycare cooperated fully with their subsequent investigation.
Investigators found that the two women had asked the children to push, pull and hit each other, according to the outlet.
Foster told WLTX that the behavior “began with (Caldwell and Jones) saying the teacher had encouraged other students or other daycare clients to use violence in an attempt to punish a child or make another compliant child.”
“I have no idea what the two daycare workers were thinking – it was just obnoxious behavior,” Foster continued. “I just can’t imagine why you would do that.”
In total, 14 children were involved, Foster said — according to WLTX, they were between three and four years old.
Although none suffered serious physical injuries, Foster said, it remains unclear “how much emotional or psychological damage could have been caused by this.”
A parent of one of the victims, who WLTX did not name, said her child was told to hit another child and then do it again.
Foster told WIS-TV that the two women were “rogue employees” and that the department did not believe the daycare was complicit in their behavior.
A parent of one of the victims told the outlet she didn’t believe the problem was systemic and said she “hated that these two women were somehow tarnishing the name of this daycare.”
“But at the same time, I’m happy that this was caught and they will have to bring justice.” But at the end of the day, there is no real justice, because how do you get that out of a child’s head? » asked the woman. “You changed their lives.”