Five daycare workers have been arrested by authorities in Mississippi after video of one of them frightening children in a Halloween mask went viral earlier this month.
“Parents and others were incensed at the video showing a worker wearing a frightening mask and terrifying the small children. At one point in the two-minute video, she chased one of the horrified children,” The Blaze reported.
“The video went viral with millions of views. It was recorded at Lil’ Blessings Daycare in the town of Hamilton, Mississippi, on October 4,” the report added.
According to WTVA, Sierra McCandless, Oci-Anna Kilburn, Jennifer Newman and Shyenne Shelton each face three counts of felony child abuse. Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook added that a fifth worker was charged with two misdemeanors, including simple assault against a minor.
“The County Prosecuting Attorney, and the District Attorney met with the parents of the children involved in the incident at Lil’ Blessings Child Care and Learning Center and informed them of the possible criminal charges the law would allow them to pursue,” Crook said.
“Just the attention that’s, you know, that’s been given to this at this point might keep something like this from happening or people to look into what’s going on, you know, in their daycare facilities.”
But the daycare center’s owner was not charged, saying she was not aware of the incident until afterward. She also said that she does not tolerate that kind of behavior at her center and that four workers had already been fired after the incident.
“I was in complete shock of what I witnessed,” parent Katelyn Johnson told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Whether they had a mask on or a mask off, their behavior was unacceptable. My blood pressure was raised. It broke my heart for my child. I was angry.”
She said her two-year-old son is still having difficulty sleeping at night and continues to show signs of trauma.
“I hope you’re enjoying jail,” she said of the suspects. “And I hope you realize what you’ve done is serious. And it’s not a joke. And it’s nothing to laugh at.”
Parent Alyssa Hayes added: “I want them to see the terror on her [daughter] face because that is what I see every night.”
“Just the attention that’s, you know, that’s been given to this at this point might keep something like this from happening or people to look into what’s going on, you know, in their daycare facilities,” Crook told the GMA program.
As first reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, one former worker, who identified herself online as CeeCee, responded to the firing in “an emotional 19-minute Facebook video following the release of footage showing her scare children who were ‘bad’ for not cleaning up,” the outlet noted.
“It wasn’t meant to harm anybody and it wasn’t ill-intentioned,” CeeCee explained on Facebook. “The teachers asked me if I would do it or if they could use [the mask] to get their class to listen or clean up . . . I’m not a child abuser.”