Officials in Kentucky are monitoring a day-care center after an investigation found that staff members forced children to line up for a swat with a ruler before they could have a yogurt — a “game” the workers called “smack for a snack.”
The state Office of Inspector General found that on Aug. 4 two male employees at New Creation Child Care in Lexington required the children, who were school-age, to get a “smack” on their hands or their legs to have their snack.
“The teacher said if you want a yogurt, you have to stand up to get hit on the hand or the leg,” a 10-year-old girl, who said she was hit once on her hand and her leg, told investigators about the incident, according to the state report. “Everyone lined up to get a hit. Some kids were crying about it.”
“Everybody at the day care got hit,” a 7-year-old boy told the investigators, according to the report.
The investigation shows at least two of the children had bruising on the back of their legs as a result.
The Office of Inspector General said in a statement Friday afternoon that during the investigation, New Creation Child Care was “placed under intermediate sanctions which called for increased monitoring of the daycare” and that the Division of Regulated Child Care is now monitoring the day care to ensure that it complies with the sanctions agreement.
Lexington police said one male employee was cited Aug. 9 for second-degree assault in the incident. A woman who answered the phone Friday afternoon at New Creation Child Care declined to comment.
Following a mother’s complaint in August that her children had marks from the swatting, the Office of Inspector General within the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services opened an investigation. The day-care director said she had been told that the children had been playing a game with rulers, but the state investigation later found that a worker had hit the children, according to the report.
The report stated:
One (1) of the male staff confirmed he hit the children with a ruler and implied that it was just a game. The Detective asked him how many kids were hit and he replied, “Definitely twenty plus kids. But, not everybody got hit.” The other male staff person involved told the Detective that his strikes were only on the palms of the children’s hands while the other male staff struck the children on their calves. He told the Detective that the other male staff came up with game “smack for a snack.”
During the investigation, authorities interviewed children who said they had been forced to play it.
“One day we got smacked with a hard stick for a snack,” a 7-year-old boy told investigators. “Sometimes it was on the leg and sometimes it was on the hand. Everyone that wanted a snack got hit; it hurt.”
A 9-year-old child said, “I didn’t even want a snack, but he hit me anyway,” according to the report.
The investigation revealed several other violations, including having too many children per staff member and failing to keep proper “sign-in” and “sign-out” sheets for the children; investigators also observed a shattered storefront window, which staff members said broke as one child knocked another child into it.