Three daycare teachers in Des Plaines, Illinois, have been caught trying to drug the toddlers in their care using melatonin laced gummy bears. Without authorisation and permission from a child’s parents it is illegal to give a child any drug, but in this case the three workers believed they were innocent of a crime because melatonin is an over-the-counter sleep aid.
Jessica Heyse, 19, Ashley Helfenbein, 25, and Kristen Lauletta, 32, have all been charged with battery and child endangerment and have all admitted to handing out the drugged gummy bears to 12 children so that they would have an easier time napping. Police report that none of the children have experienced any side effects or harmful outcomes, so thankfully no harm has come to them.
Meanwhile the daycare centre remains open and parents continue to bring their children there as neither the police nor public have reason to believe that the rest of the staff are responsible.
Police were alerted to the crime by the nursery’s executive director after he became aware of what the staff had been doing. Detectives questioned everyone who had direct contact with the toddlers, but in the end only arrested the three named by the director. Speaking to the press, Chief of Police Bill Kushner said,
“It was supposed to be a 120-count bottle and I believe there were 4 or 5 left in the bottle, so this had been ongoing for some time.”
Meanwhile one parent who had been affected by the practice spoke anonymously to the press:
“I’m upset and I will be at the court date cause my son was one of the ones that was in the room.” She later added that while she was upset she will continue to use the current daycare. “Kiddie Junction is an awesome place, my son has been here for a while now and the teachers have been awesome for the most part, other than these three bad apples.”
The three daycare workers are due in court on April 4th where the Chief of Police has revealed they will face more charges than just battery and child endangerment.
Melatonin is a drug produced by the body to regulate our sleep cycle, but can often be taken in supplement form in order to help treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Experts do not recommend that it be given to children.