Daycare Under Investigation For Running 'Fight Club'
Two teachers at a daycare in St. Louis, Missouri who organized a one-day fight club for preschoolers say they set up the activity after the heater broke and needed something to do to entertain the kids.
According to a lawsuit filed in December 2016, Nicole Merseal claims her then 4-year-old son was encouraged by two teachers at the Adventure Learning Center in St. Louis, Missouri, to fight several other children while wearing "Hulk Hands."
The lawsuit accuses the day care of running a "fight club" and allowing children to "intimidate and harm" her son.
"My son was very afraid," Merseal 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."
The video shows two unidentified children going toe-to-toe, punching one another while wearing "Hulk Hands" - hands that "grip, grab, smash, and pack a big punch." One teacher can be seen jumping up and down in excitement, and another teacher can be seen placing the hulk hands on the preschoolers.
Footage shows two children falling to the ground while a teacher kicks into the air in excitement. The only person who attempts to break up the fighting is another preschooler, but he still can't stop one of his classmates from pounding another preschooler's head into the ground.
When the teachers didn't stop the fighting, one of the brothers grabbed his iPad and began recording the fight. Daycare cameras recorded nearly thirty minutes of footage of the 'fight club' before the daycare director stopped the fights.
Merseal says when she first saw the video, she was in complete shock.
"I immediately left work. I also called the day care immediately and told them to go stop the fighting."
According to the police report about the incident, the director immediately fired the two teachers and called the child abuse hotline. An investigation by the Missouri Department of Health found that the teachers started the fight club because the children were "bored" and that they had "run out of things to do."
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the teachers.
State regulators increased inspections of the daycare following the incident, further visits found at least 26 other violations by the daycare including a teacher cussing at students and a staff member grabbing a child by the arm and drag/carry the child away.