WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – The two childcare workers who were seen taunting and abusing an eight-year-old autistic boy in a Snapchat video have turned themselves in to authorities.
A Winter Haven Police Department spokesperson said Kaderrica Smith and Alexus Henderson were booked into the Polk County Jail after they turned themselves in.
Henderson, who was charged with child neglect has bonded out. News Channel 8 spoke with a family member who admitted she saw the video.
“I saw it. Everybody makes mistakes. I feel like everything does not need to be on social media, but at the end of the day, everybody makes mistakes. Can’t nobody judge them but God,” the woman said.
Smith, who faces charges of child abuse and battery, had her bond set at $5,000 on Friday afternoon. The mother of three, who also coaches cheerleading and little league, was ordered not to have any contact with children.
The eight-year-old boy, who was diagnosed with autism, ADHD, ODD and severe outbursts, is seen and heard crying and hiding underneath a table as the women continue to taunt him.
The video shows the child coming out from under the table and attempting to run towards one of the women when she grabs him and trips him, causing the child to fall on his back.
At another point, one of the women is showing throwing a backpack at the child, which hits him in the face.
The video lasts approximately three minutes and shows the child reacting to the taunting.
Henderson and Smith said in an initial interview they felt they were acting appropriately and they did nothing wrong, according to police.
“These workers were supposed to be trained in how to handle children with behavioral issues,” said Police Chief Charlie Bird. “They are trained to deescalate situations, but that obviously did not happen.”
The facility immediately fired both Henderson and Smith and placed a hold on their certifications so they could not be re-employed by any place working with children during the investigation.
“As an autism parent I was angry. I was upset,” Rae Ryan said.
Ryan told News Channel 8 her eight-year old autistic son attended Our Children of Winter Haven until 2015. She claims she witnessed other staff inappropriately handle another student, so she removed her son from the school right away.
“I went into the school for an unannounced visit and walked in on them dragging a child in the hallway by their feet and legs,” Ryan said.
Seeing this latest video, Ryan said her heart breaks for the child.
“You’re dealing with autistic children who can’t come home and tell you. That is literally my biggest fear, is someone harming my child and me not being able to know, him not being able to tell me.”
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