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Delaware Daycare Workers Arrested For Encouraging Toddler 'Fight Club'

Jordana Divon
Team Mom
August 22, 2012

Between astronomical daycare costs and the idea that anything can go wrong when they're not around, many parents feel anxious about leaving their children in the care of others.

But it's doubtful any mom or dad could conceive of this horrifying scenario: Three Delaware daycare worker have been charged after allegedly encouraging a pair of 3-year-olds to beat each other up last March — then capturing the chaos on video.

"It's not like they didn't know what was going on, and they were just encouraging them to continue," Dover Police Capt. Tim Stump tells CNN about the cell phone footage that "shocked" local police.

"One of the children attempted to run, but one of the teachers pushes him back into the fray."

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Police first caught wind of the video after responding to an unrelated incident. During this call, an unidentified person showed officers a recording of the toddler "fight club."

While neither child sustained any injuries, Stump says it was clear they were hurting each other.

At one point, a woman's off-camera voice warns, "No pinching, only punching."

Seven other children can reportedly be seen in the periphery, their backs turned to the fighting going on nearby.

Police have not released the video footage.

Though this may be the first reported incident of its kind, it's far from the only headline-making daycare atrocity.

In 2011, an unlicensed daycare operator in Mississauga, Ont. was charged with second-degree murder after a 14-month-old girl died in her care.

April Luckese was accused of aggressively shaking Duy-An Nguyen. Shaken baby syndrome can result in brain damage and death. The little girl was taken to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.

In yet another incident, police arrested a 54-year-old daycare operator in Connecticut last March after she allegedly locked a 6-month-old girl in a crawlspace to prevent health inspectors from seeing that her centre was over capacity.

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Back in Delaware, police are investigating to determine whether the three suspects had engaged in this sort of toddler fight baiting before.

To date, authorities have offered the daycare's owners the benefit of the doubt, suggesting they may not have been aware of what was happening — but their business licence has been suspended all the same.

An institutional abuse investigation by the state's Division of Family Services is also underway.

Meanwhile, Tiana Harris, 19; Estefania Myers, 21; and Lisa Parr, 47 have been arrested on charges of assault, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.

And parents of infants and toddlers everywhere may be be paying much closer attention to the places they deposit their little ones.

Watch the video below where the proud mom of 14 year-old Annaleise Carr, who swam across Lake Ontario, speaks about her daughter's achievement.  

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