The first rule of daycare is usually about sharing or keeping kids safe. But according to one woman, the first rule of her son's daycare may just be: you do not talk about Fight Club.
In a report by KHOU.com, Heather Howerton said she's suing a daycare center, claiming that her 4-year-old son was forced to fight another child, and that the incident was captured on video. She alleges that the daycare staff encouraged her son to fight in the video and did nothing to stop the tussle between the two toddlers.
According to the report, Howerton's son had been coming home with injuries with no explanation for a while, but she couldn't figure out the cause until she was contacted by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and shown the video. The report states…
- The daycare was apparently investigated, but no charges have been filed.
- The daycare owner says the employee who filmed the fight has been terminated.
- Howerton has plans to file a lawsuit against the daycare.
What's unsettling is that this isn't the only case of a so-called "child fight club." According to an article on NJ.com, there have been similar cases in New Jersey, Delaware, and Ohio in the past few years, often brought to light by cell phone videos of the incidents being posted to social media.
Kids are High Stakes and High Risk
As a daycare owner, this type of incident can be a tremendous blow to your business' reputation and funds. These cases almost always result in criminal charges or lawsuits, and it's not hard to see why. People take their children's welfare seriously. If you're the owner of a daycare, this should mean two things:
- Know who you're hiring. Background checks and reference checks are a must when taking on new employees.
- Implement a risk management plan. Develop and facilitate a risk management plan if something like this should happen at your facility. This also means having daycare insurance coverage.
Obviously, the primary concern is making sure a fight club or any other kind of child endangerment isn't going to take place at your facility. That's daycare 101. Because the stakes are so high (you're responsible for other people's children, remember), a single incident could bankrupt your whole business. It's imperative that you're prepared for the worst.
This Isn't Child's Play: Insurance Protection for Your Daycare
So what's going to help you in the event that your daycare is accused of organizing a child fight ring (or generally allowing children to be injured)? There are two kinds of insurance policies to consider:
- General Liability Insurance. Sometimes referred to as "slip-and-fall" insurance, General Liability is designed to kick in when a third party accidentally suffers a bodily injury on your premises. It can help cover medical and legal costs if the event results in a lawsuit. In the case of a child being accidentally injured, this is the insurance policy you'd look to for help.
- Professional Liability Insurance. This policy is designed to help when you're accused of professional negligence. Whether or not an employee really did instigate a fight, your daycare could be accused of negligence in its childcare duties and you could face a hefty lawsuit. Even if the charge is eventually dropped (e.g., if the employee in question is fired and the parent is satisfied), your initial legal defense will still take an enormous amount of time and money.
If a child fight ring sounds downright improbable at your day care, you may not think you need this coverage. But let's face it – kids don't need fight clubs to get themselves injured. A concerned parent might question your facility's safety if their child is hurt and it could be enough to get the lawyers involved. That's an expensive, drawn out ordeal, so you want to avoid that. These policies may help cover your…
- Court costs.
- Attorney fees.
- Judgments or settlements.
Still, the best thing is to avoid child endangerment altogether. If your employees really want to watch a fight, tell them to get Pay-Per-View like everyone else.