One can only imagine how hard it was for the parents to watch their son become more violent and not understand why.
As CBS New York reports, the New Jersey parents had noticed a change in their previously active and healthy son. But it took a while before they were able to trace it to his preschool.Screenshot/CBS New York
The then 4-year-old attended Lightbridge Academy, an educational care center for children from infancy up to school-age. One day in August 2015, two Lightbridge employees, 22-year-old Erica Kenny and 28-year-old Chanese White, encouraged the children in the care to fight each other on the playground.
Kenny and White reportedly threatened the kids who didn’t want to participate in their preschool “fight club” and warned children not to tell their parents about it. The workers also uploaded videos of the fights to Snapchat.
According to NJ.com, a lawsuit filed against the Lightbridge and its former employees stated:
Under White, Kenny and Lightbridge’s care, [the child] was forced to gather with a dozen other children ages 4-6, and all were taunted and forced to “fight” each other for the morbid enjoyment of White and Kenny.
Investigators discovered the preschool fight club when someone recorded a Snapchat video of the fights and reported it. In the meantime, the worried parents wondered why their son’s personality was changing. The family’s attorney, Jamison Mark, told CBS New York:
“He’s become a very violent kid.”
Kenny and White were fired and are serving three years probation after pleading guilty to child abuse. In a statement to CBS New York, Lightbridge Academy stressed that they had assisted investigators in pursuing charges against its former employees:
While no children were physically harmed during this incident, we have a zero tolerance policy for anyone who acts in conflict with the core value of Lightbridge Academy — the safety and well-being of children.
In the years since the fight club was discovered, a number of parents have sued the workers and school. Mark told NJ.com the fight club did long-term damage to his young client, who still experiences “night tremors” and behavior problems:
“Unfortunately he lashes out in school. He is something of an intimidator, a tough kid but in a bad way.”
Though his concerned parents have tried to help the boy deal with the aftermath, Mark says that it has been a struggle. As he told CBS New York:
“Through therapy and counseling, he’s been able to subdue a little of it, but there’s issues still.”