Video shows Polk child-care workers berating autistic child

Courtesy Winter Haven Police Department

Courtesy Winter Haven Police Department

Two child care workers in Florida surrendered to authorities after they were identified on video taunting an 8-year-old autistic student - hitting the boy with a backpack and tripping him inside a classroom.

One of the workers is shown throwing shoes and a backpack while the boy was under the table, according to police.

The video, which lasts approximately three minutes, shows the child reacting to the taunting in both a verbal and physical manner.

At one point in the video, the child comes out from under the table and attempts to run toward one of the workers when she grabs his arms and does a "leg sweep", causing him to fall flat on his back. Despite the abuse, the child did not need medical attention, as reported by FOX13.

Both workers were immediately fired following the incident and both have blocks placed on their certifications so they cannot be employed by other childcare facilities.

In initial interviews, Smith and Henderson said they acted appropriately and did nothing wrong, according to the police news release. Due to the nature of the incident, an interview with the child by a DCF Child Protection Team member needed to be conducted to continue the investigation. The interview was completed on September 15. and, according to police, it was determined that both workers committed criminal acts in dealing with the boy. The pair surrendered after police issued warrants for their arrests. Henderson was booked for child neglect.

"These workers were supposed to be trained in how to handle children with behavioral issues", said Chief Charlie Bird. "They are trained to deescalate situations, but that obviously did not happen".

Smith was charged with battery and child abuse. Calls can be anonymous and information may be eligible for a cash reward.

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