The parents of a 5-year-old Florida boy are furious after their son came home from a day care program with injuries to his face.
Chelsea Stallone told WFLA her young son, Aidan, came home from a KinderCare center in Wesley Chapel, Florida, in early April with a bruised, swollen cheek.
"I was upset. I was extremely upset," Chelsea said. "I couldn't believe it happened."
"That's not a scratch on his face, that's half his face," she added.
According to a Facebook post written by Aidan's father, Steve Stallone, the injury to the child's face occurred when he was forced by a 10-year-old fourth-grader to play the tripping game.
When the Stallones asked the KinderCare staff about the injury, they were told their son had fallen down while playing with a friend, which they claim is inaccurate.
Steve wrote in the April 11 post that the center is short-staffed and frequently mixes preschoolers, including their son, with children as old as 10 or 12 in their after-school care programs.
Although day care staff promised to begin separating the children by age after Aidan's parents complained about the situation, the little boy got an injury to his stomach two weeks later when an older child pushed him to the ground.
The Stallones said KinderCare staff refused to address their son's bullying.
"They completely sugar coated it," Chelsea told WFLA. "They belittled the incident."
"That's what makes us really angry about all this," Steve said. "When my wife went in there to talk about this, the teacher was basically trying to say they're short-staffed, like, 'What do you want me to do about it?'"
After the second incident, the Stallones filed a report with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Steve's Facebook post, which contains photos of his son's injuries, has received more than 2,000 shares and 800 likes in two days.
KinderCare has released this official statement in response to the Stallones' complaint, according to WFLA:
"We are committed to creating a safe, nurturing program for all children. We know some scrapes and scratches are a natural part of childhood. Of course, we understand that any injury to their child can be upsetting for a parent.
"I can assure you that any time any child is injured at our center, our teachers treat the injury and fill out an incident report form that they share with the child’s parents. The same was done for this child.
"Although minor injuries, like scrapes, that require no medical attention are reported only to the child’s parents, we did call licensing this morning to inform them about the situation. They, along with CPS and the sheriff, are looking into the issue, and we will support these agencies in any way we can.
"During the drop-off and pick-up times -- when there aren’t many children in the center -- we mix several age groups to ensure that we have appropriate supervision of all the children where one classroom might otherwise only have one student in the center, for instance. This practice is in accordance with Licensing guidelines.
"While we don’t believe bullying is an issue at this center, KinderCare’s Inclusion Services team is working with staff to determine if there’s any additional support or training they can provide our teachers. The Inclusion Services team helps teachers determine the best way to support children’s specific needs, whether that’s through our curriculum or by offering support or training to teachers."