Pennsylvania police have confirmed that they are filing child endangerment charges against two teenagers who filmed a video of a two-year-old boy smoking a vape pen while they were babysitting him. According to police, the authorities were alerted to the video via the local youth violence prevention hotline, Safe2Say Something.
The video shows the toddler inhaling from a vaping device and falling down while he coughs and cries. The laughter of the two girls can be heard in the background of the video. The teenage girls–who are 18 and 17, respectively–allegedly filmed the video of the toddler smoking and then posted the 20-second clip to Snapchat.
Shortly after being posted and reported, the video went viral on social media, with the public demanding that the police get involved.
The Indiana Criminal Investigation Unit responded to the outcry with a statement saying that they were “aware of a video” and were “investigating the related incident in which a 2-year-old child was given a vaping device”. They confirmed that the “involved persons and child have been identified and charges are pending.” The authorities also revealed that the toddler did not display any other visible effects from the vape, which apparently contained 3% nicotine and no THC.
According to authorities, the local school district has identified the teenagers in the video as students who attend one of their schools. They provided the students’ names to the police. “United administration was made aware of the video today, and the matter is being investigated by the authorities,” said United School District of Armagh Superintendent Dr. Barbara Parkins in a statement. “We believe that two of our students were involved in the situation. The names of those students were provided to the authorities.”
Viewers were especially disturbed by the video in light of the troubling cases of illness and death that have recently been associated with vape pens.
The media-dubbed epidemic has elicited a strong response from health officials who urge the public to avoid vaping pens and e-cigarettes at all costs. “E-cigarettes are not safe and can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease,” American Lung Association president Harold Wimmer recently said in a statement addressing the health epidemic. “No one should use e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product.”.
As for the toddler’s mother, she is horrified that her child was subjected to such dangerous activity without her knowledge.
“I’m disgusted. I’m very upset.I’m in disbelief they would even laugh or even have something like that in reach of a child’s possession,” the child’s mother told local news station WXPI. “I’m not trusting anybody anymore to babysit my child,” she continued. “I’m done. I don’t even want to put him in daycare. I can’t trust anybody anymore.”
As for the fallout from this incident, the video is sparking a larger debate on social media about the callous way in which many Gen Zers use social media to publicize their problematic activities for clout and retweets. In an internet culture that glorifies problematic “pranks” and public humiliation, this kind of incident feels, for many, like the last straw.
The public’s outcry seems to largely stem from the fact that the teenagers were laughing while they recklessly put a toddler in danger.
It’s one thing to put a child in harm’s way, it’s another to laugh about it, and it’s an entirely other case when you post and brag about it on social media.
We can only imagine the feelings of shock and betrayal this mother is experiencing right now.
It is likely that these teen girls didn’t know the danger they were putting this child in by letting him smoke an e-cigarette.