When my bossman first called me Wednesday night to tell me about the childcare workers on Fort Meyer who had been fired and accused of child abuse, my first reaction was a mixed bag of "that's an isolated incident," and "the Pentagon is likely overreacting -- I'm sure this type of thing happens more than they know. I'm sure people get fired after parents complain all the time."
But then I read the stories. The abuse, according to this story, was caught on tape and brought to light when parents complained. Several workers were seen kneeing, pinching, dropping, dragging and otherwise roughly handling several toddlers. Those workers were fired. The managers above them were also fired.
Basically, they were treating children in ways that were unlikely to cause serious injury but very likely to make me never want to take my kid within 100 feet of a CDC ever again.
This incident happened a few months ago -- but when Secretary of Defense Panetta found out about it on Tuesday he was, according to this story, "enraged." He ordered a worldwide review of the hiring practices at military childcare facilities. Why? Because a short Army investigation at Meyer reveleaed the following shocking fact:
Thirty-one -- 31! -- of the 130 CDC employees had criminal records, according to a Military.com source. From the story "the charges included 14 for assault, six for drug use, and two for sexual assault in the fourth degree – a misdemeanor that could involve public exposure. The official was at a loss to explain how the 31 got through the Army’s vetting process for employment."
Let me make something extraordinarily clear right now -- I have regularly used Army hourly care centers since my son was born almost four years ago. I have left him at hourly centers on Fort Lewis and Fort Benning on a weekly basis. Both of my children are often left at the Fort Campbell SFAC hourly center and I have ZERO complaints. In fact, I downright love those people. I have never personally witnessed or even suspected abuse from these fabulous caretakers, particularly at the SFAC center. I would trust those ladies with my babies any day.
That being said, such a shocking fact obviously made Panetta wonder the same thing I wonder -- and the same thing you are likely wondering -- where else is this true? Have some of the childcare workers at my base daycares or hourly centers been convicted for sexual assault?
When it comes to the care of our children we cannot be too careful. How will you be changing your childcare habits as a result of this scandal. If you work in a CDC (and I know many of our readers have or do) does this story surprise you?