A daycare centre in Lexington, Kentucky is under scrutiny after it was revealed that two male employees forced children to play the game "smack for a snack" in order to get some yogurt. One of the employees involved has been cited by authorities for second-degree assault.
According to investigators, the two male employees would make the school-age children line up and then hit them on the legs or hand with a ruler in order to get a snack. A report by the state did not name the New Creation Child Care employees involved in the 4 August incident.
"The teacher said if you want a yogurt, you have to stand up to get hit on the hand or the leg. Everyone lined up to get a hit. Some kids were crying about it," a 10-year-old girl told investigators, according to The Kansas City Star.
Investigators who spoke to the girl and another 7-year-old boy said the children "still had discoloration and bruising on their legs as a result of being struck by an object."
When questioned by police, one of the men confirmed he hard hit the children with a ruler, calling the incident a game, the inspection report said. "The Detective asked him how many kids were hit and he replied: "Definitely twenty plus kids. But, not everybody got hit.'"
A 7-year-old boy told investigators: "One day we got smacked with a hard stick for a snack. Sometimes it was on the leg and sometimes it was on the hand. Everyone that wanted a snack got hit; it hurt."
The Kansas City Star reported that one of the staffers allegedly hit the children only on their hands, while the other only on the legs.
The state inspector found that the man who hit the children on their legs still worked at the centre during the inspection. The inspector also discovered that one female staffer was looking after 27 children, 12 more than is permitted by the state.
According to WKYT, a female staff member said a child knocked another child into the daycare's store-front window in a separate incident, breaking the window.
Investigators launched an inspection of the facility five days after the incident took place. The Office of Inspector General in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health And Family Service, along with a detective from the Crimes Against Children police unit and a representative of the state Department for Community Based Services, conducted the investigation of New Creation.
Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the cabinet, said the daycare centre was placed under intermediate sanctions during the investigation that called for more monitoring. "The Division of Regulated Child Care in OIG is currently monitoring the facility to assure compliance with the intermediate sanctions agreement," she said.