Why The NJ Toddler Fight Club Story Is More Disturbing Than You Thought
A New Jersey day care center came under fire last week after two employees were caught running a fight club at their facility. A Brad Pitt-Edward Norton style “Fight Club“ – with staged brawls between a dozen children just 4 to 6 years old.
The “masterminds” behind the manufactured melees where toddlers were forced to fight are 22-year-old Erica Kenny and Chanese White, 28. The two former day care workers at Lightbridge Academy in Cranford are facing fourth-degree child abuse charges. Luckily, no serious injuries were reported.
Though they appear to have been inspired by the film, fortunately for those children and their parents, what Kenny forgot was that the first rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule: You DO NOT talk about Fight Club. So, recording your makeshift toddler fight club on your phone and sharing it on Snapchat clearly goes against that rule–oh, and those actual rules that exist outside of fictional movies. Well, fictional novels that were made into movies.
Of the several things wrong with this story, perhaps one of the most discerning is that it’s even a story to begin with. And for that, we can’t blame Erica Kenny, Chanese White, or their Toddler Fight Club idea.
It’s not a story because they broke the rules of Fight Club. It’s a story because we followed them. It’s a story because we looked at that headline, read those names, and were appalled, disgusted.
We wondered what kind of sick minds could come up with that, and what kind of people could just stand by and let that happen?We saw, we shook our heads, we shamed, we moved on.
We were right to be appalled and disgusted by both women, but we should be upset with ourselves as well. Because when you read or watch the story in its entirety–or at least how it should be reported–you see that Kenny and White weren’t “masterminds” at all. They were mocking something that they saw done before. Whether they remembered it or heard about it or stumbled upon it online, however they got the idea, they got it.
They didn’t have to go so far back to find it either. Because in 2014, there was a Toddler Fight Club story in the state of Delaware.
And if that’s not the one they saw, maybe it was the 2012 Toddler Fight Club story in Ohio.
Three years. Three states. Three headlines reading: “Toddler Fight Club.” Yet we shake our heads and are absolutely shocked that something like this could be going on.
It’s been going on, and will continue to go on because we see, we shake our heads, we shame, and we move on.
Because as we (pot) parents say to our (kettle) kids, people are too self-centered.
In 2012 when the headline read: “Toddler Fight Club in Ohio Day Care,” when we moved on, the parents in Ohio remembered.
In 2014 when the headline read: “Toddler Fight Club in Delaware Day Care,” when we moved on, the parents in Delaware remembered.
Just like that Snapchat video that Kenny uploaded would have done, had it not been reported, those stories disappeared for people in any state that wasn’t named in one of those headlines. For anyone who didn’t feel it had anything to do with them and the people in their lives. That’s not to say that we didn’t care that it happened. It’s to say we didn’t care enough to act.
We didn’t care enough to act and continue acting until: Toddler Fight Club in ANY Day Care was a headline that was even possible.
We are the Fight Club. We followed the rules of the Fight Club. We DID NOT talk about the Toddler Fight Club enough. Simply because our children weren’t a part of that Toddler Fight Club. So we didn’t fight to make sure it no longer existed.
So here we are. We’ve seen the headline. We know about all of the headlines – Delaware, Ohio, New Jersey. We know that Erica Kenny and Chanese White will be punished for running their Toddler Fight Club. But what will we do? What will we do about these three headlines? Yes, three is a small number, but consider the number of children represented in each of those headlines.
How many more children will we continue to be hurt? How long will it take before we stop shaking our heads, shaming everyone else, and moving on? How long before we start fighting to make sure every child care facility in the country is required to have monitors in every room, giving parents individual codes that allow them to go online and not only monitor their children, but monitor the people they’ve entrusted to care for them?
We can’t wait. We have to fight. We have to make rule one of our Fight Club to talk about Toddler Fight Club. Rule two: DO NOT stop talking about Toddler Fight Club until the last three headlines we see with those words are:
“Parents Demand Childcare Centers to Carefully Monitor & Crackdown on Employees to Prevent Toddler Fight Clubs”
“Parents Press Lawmakers to Tackle the Issue of Toddler Fight Clubs in Childcare Centers”
“Countrywide Movement Puts an End to Toddler Fight Clubs in Childcare Centers”