Two child care workers in Florida have turned themselves over to authorities after video surfaced of them allegedly berating and abusing an autistic child under their supervision.
In the shocking video, Kaderrica Smith, 26 and Alexus Henderson, 19 can be seen and heard mocking and physically assaulting the 8-year-old as he throws a temper tantrum.
As the video begins, the boy hides underneath a table at Our Children’s Academy in Winter Haven, Florida, while one of the women throws shoes at him, followed by a backpack–which appears to hit the child in the face. The boy screams in pain as the objects connect with his body.
The women sarcastically tell the boy to continue acting out and essentially egg him on–in between a series of entirely inappropriate threats, taunts, and laughter.
One of them says, “Your face is gonna be in the toilet. Pick up something else and throw it.” Then the other woman yells out indistinguishable words before saying, “Don’t fall,” as the boy climbs on top of a swivel chair. The first woman corrects the second, saying, “Fall on your face.”
One of the women later derides the boy as a “smarty pants” and yells at him to spell something. As the child runs from one side of the room to another, one of the women grabs him by his arms and shoves him away. This prompts the child to again hide underneath the table–and prompts the child care professional to call him a chicken, make chicken sounds and flap her arms.
The other employee then joins in to yell “chicken” and other insults as the visibly and audibly agitated child runs around the room, clearly distraught. One of the women then attempts to goad another child into mocking the boy, saying, “Ask him what’s wrong with himself.” At one point, one of the women even trips the boy, causing him to fall on his back.
According to the Winer Haven Police Department, the child suffers from a host of behavioral issues, including autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Winter Haven Police Chief Charlie Bird, said, in a statement: “These workers were supposed to be trained in how to handle children with behavioral issues. They are trained to de-escalate situations, but that obviously did not happen.”
But, apparently, Smith and Henderson feel they were in the right. The statement continues:
An initial interview conducted with both Henderson and Smith revealed that they felt they were acting appropriately and they did nothing wrong. The facility immediately fired both Henderson and Smith and [the Florida Department of Children and Families] placed a hold on their certifications so they could not be re-employed by any entity working with children while the investigation was being conducted.
Warrants were issued for both women after the video was posted to Snapchat, which made its way to child welfare authorities and then the police. After learning of the warrants, they turned themselves in. Smith was charged with battery and child abuse, while Henderson–presumably the one filming–was charged with neglect of a child.
[image via screengrab; video courtest Fox 13/Snapchat]