Putting a child into daycare can be a harrowing choice for some parents. While many (probably even most) providers are responsible, dependable, and totally loving, there are just too many stories of daycare centers with evil things going on behind parents’ backs. No matter how rare some of these dramatic cases may be, they tend to stick in a mom or dad’s mind for good and make it hard to trust or get comfortable with a daycare provider.
Luckily, there are some ways to make sure your kid is heading to one of the many wonderful and nurturing facilities out there. For starters, it’s best to opt for a licensed daycare center because you know it’s being regularly inspected and monitored. You’ll also probably want a place with plenty of cameras installed, for your own peace of mind (and to make sure they have nothing to hide). And you’ll also want to make sure that everyone who works there is subject to a background check, so you know your child isn’t being taken care of by someone unfit— like for example, some of the criminals on this list.
Here are 15 sad stories of daycare owners and employees who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near children.
15 Slapped On Snapchat
When Tyler Davis dropped his twin daughters off at his gym’s daycare center, he probably figured the girls would have a great time playing while he squeezed in a workout. What happened instead, however, was totally heartbreaking. It took a few days for the story to unravel, but Davis was informed that his little girls— just 18 months old at the time— were tormented by two female workers. The little girls were apparently pushed and spun around while the two employees laughed, and one was even slapped across the face by one of the heartless workers who then idiotically posted it on Snapchat. A third employee reported the wildly inappropriate post to the gym’s manager, who called Davis. The gym fired both women and reported the incident to the police.
14 Wiffle Bat Beating
New York mom Claudia McDonald got a shocking and unexpected call from a police detective in 2016. She was told that the daycare center she’d been sending her young daughter to had been busted for abuse. Even worse, McDonald was told that her child was the first one targeted by the wiffle bat wielding daycare worker. You’d think the worker would have been smart enough (not to mention kind enough) to not hit the kids at all, let alone to do it in clear view of surveillance cameras. Another child was found with multiple bruises from being hit with the bat, and child endangerment charges were filed and the owner was arrested. A lawyer for the parents sued to make sure the owner didn’t destroy any other surveillance video, to make sure no other incidents it might have captured went unpunished.
13 Whistleblowing Worker
A former Iowa daycare worker had good reason to be angry with their former boss, Lynn Rowe. Rowe was apparently abusing at least one of the children in her care, and the former employee decided to do something about it. They secretly recorded video of Rowe berating and hitting a 4-year-old girl, all because she was annoyed that the girl was playing with her hair. When the little girl complained that Rowe was hurting her, Rowe’s heartless response was allegedly “Good, I hope it hurt you.” The secret video was then handed over to the girl’s parents, who immediately informed the police as well as the other daycare families (who all obviously immediately pulled their children out of the center). Rowe was arrested and charged with child abuse.
12 Slapped Over Straightening Up
South Carolina daycare worker Thomasine Jackson allegedly flew off the handle when a little girl in her care wouldn’t pick up her toys. Jackson told local sheriff’s deputies that the 3-year-old girl not only refused to listen, but also swore at her. She then admitted that she “gently” hit the girl in the mouth for her sassiness, but denied doing anything worse. But that story didn’t seem to add up for the girl’s parents, who immediately noticed a bruise on her face and a scratch on her neck when they picked her up. The girl immediately pointed the finger at Jackson, saying she’d been hit. Jackson was arrested and charged with assault and battery, and it emerged that the daycare center where the incident went down had a number of complaints against it.
11 Caught On Camera
A Pennsylvania daycare worker was caught red-handed thanks to security footage of an appalling incident. Sarah Gable walks into the frame behind a 4-year-old girl and appears to shove her in the back, knocking her down several stairs. Gable then seems to immediately realize her mistake, shooting an exasperated look up at the surveillance camera. It had apparently just been installed that same day, and a sharp-eyed manager happened to be watching the feed just as Gable lost her temper. Ironically, the camera was put over the steps because the kids sometimes played around there and hurt themselves, not because of any suspicion of the workers. Police say the girl hurt her knee but wasn’t seriously injured in the incident. Gable was charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
10 Looking The Other Way
A Connecticut daycare owner was accused of putting profits before the safety of the children in her care. Meegan Beach was sentenced to four years in jail (though she served just a 150 days of that sentence) because she knew that one of her employees was abusing their little charges, but did nothing to stop it. She also failed to report it, which is mandatory (and also basic human decency). The worker in question, Nicole Mayo, was accused of hitting, restraining, and even force-feeding kids as young as 2. A mom of one of the boys Mayo was accused of abusing said the toddler was still traumatized by it a year later. Mayo’s case is still ongoing, but Beach will never be allowed to work in child care again.
9 Baby Fight Club
Apparently, the first rule of Fight Club should be changed to “you don’t run one with babies.” Two New Jersey daycare workers apparently thought otherwise, because they were accused of forcing the little kids in their care to fight. Police say 22-year-old Erica Kenny and 28-year-old Chanese White were in charge of boys and girls between 4 and 6 years old. They apparently decided it would be amusing to encourage the kids to attack each other, and took pictures and videos of the fights to post on social media. Though the kids hit and shoved each other on command (they were allegedly threatened with punishment if they didn’t comply), thankfully none of them were seriously hurt. Kenny and White, meanwhile, were each arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. Both pleaded guilty.
8 Broken Bones
All of the kids in “Miss Pepper’s” Texas daycare center were under two years old, but that didn’t spare them from the violence that owner Pepper Jones and her employee Brittany Hale allegedly inflicted on them. The abusive incidents came to light after a little boy suffered a broken elbow and dislocated shoulder. The little boy had just enough words to point to his arm and say “Pepper, right here.” Police began investigating and then say they uncovered a slew of other incidents in which Jones and Hale at various times pushed the children down, pulled their hair, and slapped them. Police reviewed just a week’s worth of of security footage and say they saw 6 different children being abused. Both women were arrested on charges of injuring a child.
7 Slammed Against A Table
What could a 5-month-old baby possibly do to warrant abuse? The answer to that question, if you’re asking a sane person, is absolutely nothing. But police say Pittsburgh daycare Julia Marie Spencer had no qualms about manhandling a little boy in her care. Detectives say she was caught on camera treating the boy like he was a rag doll, violently slamming him into a bouncy chair and throwing him down onto a changing table so hard his head bounced off of it. She then apparently tried to explain away his injuries (which included redness, swelling, and bruising) by saying he’d hurt himself by rolling over and knocking into some toys. Luckily, police weren’t buying it and arrested and charged Spencer with aggravated assault.
6 Unsafe Home Daycare
Police in the Chicago area say Julio Marquez was no innocent grandfatherly type. Marquez helped out his wife with the in-home daycare center she ran, but allegedly took advantage of his access to children in the most evil way possible. Police say Marquez was molesting two of the children, and that the abuse went on for a staggering four years. One of the children eventually left the daycare center and told one of his new caregivers about the incidents, and that’s how police got involved. It was then revealed that Marquez had been accused of victimizing a second child years earlier, but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him at the time. The children were just 3 and 5 years old when the abuse apparently started. He’s now facing charges of criminal sex abuse and assault.
5 Taking Advantage
In a top notch daycare center, all employees would be subject to background checks and screenings to make sure none of them would ever harm a child. But unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sean Humby scored a job at a Rochester, N.Y. daycare center because he was an acquaintance of the owner, and ended up using the position to prey on innocent children. Once the first little boy came forward to accuse Humby of molesting him, more quickly followed. Humby ended up pleading guilty to sexually abusing three boys, and was sentenced to nine years in prison. His lawyers told the families of the victims that Humby himself had been victimized as a child, and he was incredibly sorry for his actions. He’ll have to register as a sex offender once he’s out of jail, which will keep him away from kids.
4 Never Woke Up From Naptime
People who take care of children every day professionally should absolutely know all the basic safety recommendations for babies, and follow those guidelines to a T. Had the caregivers at the in-home daycare that baby Shepard Dodd listened to basic safety rules, he would very likely still be alive today. Instead, a daycare worker placed the baby boy into a carseat to take a nap— a major no no because a child can slide down if the straps are loosened and be strangled by them. That’s exactly what happened to Shepard, who was just 11 weeks old. Sadly, his parents had repeatedly reminded the daycare about sleep safety and explicitly told them not to let the boy sleep in his car seat. No charges were ever filed, since the official cause of death was listed as sudden infant death syndrome.
3 Baby Girl Lost Her Life
Had the daycare center where 8-month-old Reese Bowman died not had security cameras, the truth about the baby girl’s death might never have come out. After she was found unresponsive and the police were called, a daycare worker told them that she’d simply found her that way after feeding her and putting her down for a nap like normal. But the cameras didn’t back up that story at all. Instead, police say they showed the worker, Leah Walden, handling the girl way too roughly and putting pillows and blankets over her head. One cop went so far as to say the footage was clear evidence of torture. Chillingly, Walden walked out of the range of the camera with the girl at one point, so there’s no telling what else might have happened. Walden was charged with murder in the baby girl’s death.
2 Little Witnesses
After an 8-month-old boy died in her daycare, owner Tisha Morley was convicted of homicide. And a major factor in that guilty verdict was the testimony of other children she took care of. Children as young as 3 and 4 took the stand in her case to testify about what happened the day that Lincoln Penland died. One little girl told the court that a little boy at the daycare center had grabbed the baby, kicked him, and slammed his head against a door— all the while Morley was out of the room and on her cell phone. Surprisingly, that might have been the better explanation for Morley— instead, prosecutors believed she slammed the baby’s head down on a wooden changing table herself. She could now spend the rest of her life in prison.
1 A Violent End
When a 14-month-old boy died in a Michigan in-home daycare center, police found their investigation focused on an unlikely player: the owner’s 8-year-old daughter. Police said early in the investigation that she may have been responsible, but have stopped short of calling her a suspect while the case is ongoing. The baby boy’s death apparently went unnoticed until his mother arrived to pick him up. The owner, Keysha Collins, was charged with child neglect and accused of sleeping on the job, having too many children in her care, and failing to provide safe sleep spaces for the kids. She is not personally suspected of causing any of the fatal injuries the baby suffered, but rather failing to properly supervise the children causing the circumstances that led to his death.
Sources: ABC 7 NY, WOWT, Omaha.com, KHOU, WISTV, WYFF, ABC News, FOX 61, NJ.com, Waco Tribune, DaycareAbuse.com, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Chicago Tribune, ABC 7 Chicago, RochesterFirst.com, KFOR, The Baltimore Sun, People, Mlive.com
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