A Memphis, Tennessee, family is under investigation after a disturbing photo of two children was posted to Facebook.
In the photo obtained by WMCTV, two young children have their mouths and wrists duct taped inside a vehicle. It appears the oldest child in the photo has tears in her eyes.
The photo caption reads: “Kids For Sale 45% Off because they bad.”
User Jaton Justsilly Jaibabi posted the photo to Facebook. The account has since been deactivated.
The Memphis Police Department opened an investigation after WMCTV sent them a copy of the photo on March 17.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services said they have very limited information, but further research will be performed before investigating the family.
Derion King, the cousin of the children’s mother, says the photo was meant as a joke.
"Basically a joke at the moment that people just went overboard about," King wrote in a statement to WMCTV. "People make mistakes and that's what this situation is, a lesson learned. They are safe, unharmed, and loved. That's all it is to it,."
People who have seen the photo aren't laughing.
"I could not breathe," one parent said. "It took my breathe away; caused extreme emotional distress. These are children. These are human beings."
"That's wrong," a Trezevant High School student said. ""That's no joke. It's nothing to play with. I find it offensive."
The use of duct tape to muzzle the children calls to mind abuse dogs have suffered. In one instance, 44-year-old Katharine F. Lemansky of Cary, North Carolina, posted a photo to Facebook of her dog, Caitlyn, with duct tape wrapped around her mouth with the caption, “This is what happens when you don’t shut up!!!,” according to WVIT.
Lemansky was charged with animal cruelty.