Day care workers fired over photos mocking kids on Instagram

Photo from CNN
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 10:00am

Two Virginia day care workers have been fired after photos of children in their care showed up on Instagram -- along with comments making fun of them.

"He is thinking cuz sure can't talk," one day care manager from Heavenly Haven Learning Center 2 wrote, according to CNN affiliate WAVY.

The 2-year-old child the worker was referring to has delayed speech development, and is pictured sitting in a high chair, looking dejected.

Melissa Jordan says the photo shows her son, Ethan.

Speaking Tuesday to CNN's "New Day," she had a message for the day care workers: "If you don't genuinely love and care for children, and if it's not a passion of yours, this isn't something that you should be involved in. If you think it's funny that a child is delayed or if they're not perfect or they have shortcomings, if that's a joke to you or something that you think you should tease about, that's not a job for you."

"That's how bullying starts. That's how children become bullies" and insecure, she added.

The photo was posted by @mz_oneofakind -- later identified as Jena Ferrel, who worked at the center, WAVY reported. Ferrel would not speak to the station on camera.

"I'm sick of this s***!!!" she wrote in a caption.

Ethan wasn't the only child publicized.

The user @mz_oneofakind also posted a photo of a boy whose protruding front teeth she compared to those of Mater from the movie "Cars."

The @mz_oneofakind account has been taken down.

Heavenly Haven's operator said the two employees violated the day care's privacy policy. The center has also apologized to Jordan.

The Virginia Department of Social Services is investigating the incident.

Asked how she would feel if the workers involved said it was a misunderstanding and that they were just trying to be funny, Jordan told CNN, "maybe I would be a little bit more understanding, like OK, it was an inappropriate joke." There's no excuse, "but at least I can understand a human error," she said. "But that hasn't even happened."

"At my house we don't make fun of each other for our shortcomings, things that are out of our control," she said. "Things that we need extra help with, we don't tease each other about."

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