Two former day care employees from New Jersey have been terminated and charged with child abuse after allegedly staging their own “fight club” for entertainment.
Erica Kenny, 22, and Chanese White, 28, reportedly encouraged preschoolers and kindergartners to fight each other in the playground of Lightbridge Academy in Cranford in August, CBS New York reported.
Kenny and White apparently drew inspiration from the 1999 film “Fight Club.” They recorded and sent videos of the children fighting with the popular app Snapchat, according to prosecutors. Investigators obtained some of the footage after one of the recipients of the Snapchat videos recorded it.
“About a dozen children — boys and girls between the ages 4 and 6 — just fighting; throwing each other to the ground; hitting each other,” Union County Prosecutor Grace Park told CBS New York.
While the charges stem from Aug. 13, investigators are trying to determine if the fights were ongoing.
“We don’t believe there were any serious injuries at this point, but we are still investigating the case,” Park said.
Lightbridge Academy issued the following statement:
“As parents and caregivers, we are shocked and saddened by this isolated incident and we have assisted the prosecutor’s office from the start of its investigation into this matter. While no children were physically harmed during this incident, we have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who acts in conflict with the core value of Lightbridge Academy — the safety and well-being of children.”
When asked how no other staff saw the staged fights in the playground, vice president Jaclyn Falzarano said the academy’s focus is on ensuring the safety of the children.
“Again, what we really would like to focus on at this point is that all of the children are safe. That is our No. 1 priority,” Falzarano said. “We’ve actually been in constant communication with our parents to let them know that we are here to fully support the care and nurturing education of their children.”
Kenny and White face charges of child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. White could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison, while Kenny could be facing up to five years.