A viral video showing a former Mississippi daycare worker scaring kids in her care while wearing a creepy mask has prompted child abuse charges against five daycare workers, NBC affiliate WTVA of Tupelo reported.
The video, which WTVA reports was filmed Oct. 4 at Lil’ Blessings Child Care in Monroe County, prompted an investigation by the Mississippi State Department of Health and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office days after it surfaced on social media, The Associated Press reported.
Former employees Sierra McCandless, Oci-Anna Kilburn, Jennifer Newman and Shyenne Shelton each face three counts of felony child abuse, and Traci Hutson faces failure to report abuse and simple assault against a minor, both misdemeanors, WTVA reported.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to questions.
The day care facility and its owner, who state documents identify as Sheila Sanders, could not immediately be reached.
Sanders previously told the Monroe Journal that she fired the employees involved after learning about the incident, which she said she wasn’t aware of until she learned about the video.
“I don’t condone that and never have,” Sanders told the newspaper.
The video in question shows an unidentified employee of Lil’ Blessings Child Care in Hamilton wandering around screaming and crying children in what appears to be a mask depicting Ghostface, the main villain in the 1990s horror film “Scream.”
Another unmasked employee stands off to the side. It is unknown who filmed the video.
At one point, the masked employee points to a child and looks at the unmasked employee, who responds, “bad.”
The masked worker then leans in close to that child’s face.
“Are you being bad?” the worker asks the child.
“Do I need to take you outside?” the worker screams.
The employee screams in the child’s face again before looking at the camera. The worker turns back to the child and adds, “You better be good.”
The video then shows the masked worker entering what appears to be a second room, prompting screams and cries among the kids. Both the worker and the person filming ask the children something inaudible about “cleaning up.”
The masked worker then yells, “Clean up!” before chasing a child around the room, who the worker eventually picks up.
“Clean up! Clean up!” the worker screams. The worker yells a few more times and then exits the room.
Parents of children who attend the day care told the AP that they supported the facility and its owner despite being disturbed by the video.
“Was the situation that did happen horrible? Absolutely,” Kimberly Smith, a parent whose child is in one of the videos, told the AP. “But should this daycare be shut down and others be villainized that are still here, absolutely not.”
Another parent, Chas Allen, told the Monroe Journal that the day care center is important for Hamilton, an unincorporated community. The facility is the community’s only day care center, according to the directory ChildcareCenter.us.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Shut it down. Shut it down,’ but I don’t think they’re thinking about the implications that that might have,” Allen told the Monroe Journal.