VIDEO: Teachers Force Preschoolers To Battle In 'Toddler Fight Club'
St. Louis, MO – The mother of a four-year-old boy who was forced to participate in a daycare “fight club” has filed a lawsuit against the school where it happened (video below).
Nicole Lashley was at work on Dec. 7, 2016, and her three children were at Adventure Learning Center, when she received a text from her 10-year-old son, The Kansas City Star reported.
“The daycare was making them fight, not helping them,” he texted her.
In the video, Lashley saw her youngest child fighting with another child inside a circle of cheering students and teachers.
“When I got the video, I was just in complete shock. I immediately left work,” Lashley told ABC News. “I also called the daycare immediately and told them to go stop the fighting.”
She told ABC News that she also called the police, and that the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services launched an investigation.
The video showed teachers Mickala Guliford and Tena Dailey putting Incredible Hulks fists on the children as boxing gloves, and then pairing them up and ordering them to fight each other, according to ABC News.
The video showed one of the teachers jumping up and down, and kicking her feet with excitement, as one little boy fell to the ground and continued to be pummeled in the head by another preschooler.
The only one who tried to stop the fight was another little boy, but he was unable to stop the child from pounding on the other preschooler’s head.
Lashley told ABC News that she believed the fighting had only stopped because her son sent her the video and she called the school.
"My son was very afraid," Lashley told ABC News. "He didn't understand why his best friends beat him up. These are children that he's been around for a couple years. He described them as his best friends. He just doesn't understand why they punched him in the face.”
“I don't know any parent that could watch their children go through this and not be upset,” she added.
The teachers’ excuse for starting the “fight club” was that the preschoolers “were bored” and they “ran out of things to do.”
Guliford admitted her role in having the kids fight.
"I meant for the fighting with the Hulk Hands to be a stress release exercise,” she said, according to state documents.
She said they’d taken the children to the room in the basement because the heating system wasn’t working on the other floors of the building.
“It did not last more than three or four minutes,” Guliford insisted. “No children got hurt but it was still a bad judgment call on my part.”
The daycare’s cameras recorded 30 minutes of uninterrupted fighting, The Kansas City Star reported.
The director of the Adventure Learning Center, Jennifer Scott, said they sent Guliford and Dailey home that day and called the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
Eventually, both teachers who participated in the fighting were terminated.
Documents from the Missouri Departing of Health and Senior Services said the preschoolers told investigators that their teachers had let them fight “a lot of times.”
The daycare received an order to clean up their act from the state agency, but no punitive punishment was handed out, and the facility has remained open. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute, KTVI reported.
Lashley has put her children into a different daycare and after-care program, but said she still wanted to see Adventure Learning Center penalized for what happened to her child.
"It's really hard to explain to a 4 year old what is and isn't normal especially when they have their teacher telling them that, you know, they have to do this," Lashley told ABC News. "It took a long time for him to be comfortable in his new daycare and to understand that they won't make him fight.”
Lashley has filed a lawsuit seeking $25,000 in damages from Adventure Learning Center, KTVI reported.
“I want them to be held accountable and I don`t want this to happen to any other child,” Lashley said.
You can see video from the incident below: