A daycare center in St. Louis gave children Incredible Hulk toy fists and encouraged them to fight each other, according to a lawsuit filed by a mother of one of the children.
Nicole Merseal claims her then-4-year-old son was instructed by his teachers, Mikayla Guliford and Tena Dailey, to brawl another toddler. The teachers reportedly cheered the brutal pummeling at Adventure Learning Center in December 2016, according to the suit filed earlier this year, NBC News reports.
Disturbing video of the incident shows two boys fighting; one child pins another to ground and repeatedly punches the helpless child as adult voices can be heard encouraging the assault.
Merseal, of St. Charles, Missouri, claims in court documents the daycare permitted another child “to intimidate and harm” her son while directing a “fight club.”
Luckily for the parents whose children attended the daycare, Merseal’s sons recorded the incident on his iPad and sent it to her. The concerned mom immediately called the police, who interviewed the daycare director and staff.
Documents released by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and viewed by NBC News claim Guliford told Jennifer Scott, the director of the center, the children “were bored” and that “we ran out of things to do.”
Scott fired Guliford and Dailey and contacted the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, according to the health department.
Guliford admitted to having the children fight, according to state documents. She said she took the children to the lower floor of the building because of a broken heating system on the other floors.
“I meant for the fighting with the Hulk Hands to be a stress release exercise,” she said. “It did not last more than three or four minutes.”
Guliford said no children were hurt in the incident but “it was still a bad judgment call on my part.”
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the teachers, claiming that while the incident was troubling, there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.
“There was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any laws were violated,” the agency said in a statement to NBC News on Wednesday. “However, that does not diminish the incredibly poor judgment by these adults who had the responsibility to safely supervise these children. If anyone has information about this matter, we encourage they contact our office.”
The city’s Department of Health and Senior Services conducted an investigation and found the daycare followed proper protocol once the incident was discovered.
“The Section for Child Care Regulation’s report concluded that licensing rules were violated and requested that the facility take additional steps to ensure staff were trained and knowledgeable about age-appropriate activities for children,” the St. Louis Department of Health and Senior Services said in its report, NBC News reports. “The facility completed the corrective measures in April 2017.”
Merseal filed her lawsuit seeking $25,000 in damages for negligence, recklessness and breach of contract.
“The punishment wasn’t enough,” her lawyer, Jennifer Hansen, told NBC News.