DANVERS — Two Swampscott teenage girls are facing child endangerment charges after allegedly putting a baby in a refrigerator while they were babysitting on Monday.
The two girls were arrested by Danvers Police on Tuesday and were each charged with child endangerment and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. They were arraigned in Salem Juvenile Court, according to Steve O’Connell, spokesman for the Essex County District Attorney’s office.
Their identities are not being released because they are juveniles, O’Connell said, citing a state law that prohibits authorities from commenting on the evidence in juvenile cases.
The two girls recorded the incident and posted the video on social media. The video shows one of the girls placing the crying baby in the refrigerator, closing the door and saying “bye.”
The two girls are laughing, as one of them opens up the refrigerator door, which reveals the screaming baby lying on its back inside, and then takes the child out. One of the girls is shown holding the infant, and says “see, she’s OK.”
O’Connell said Swampscott and Danvers Police were notified about an incident involving a baby on Monday. He confirmed that the refrigerator was the dangerous weapon in the assault charge.
Danvers Police Chief Patrick Ambrose told reporters that “two female juveniles had placed a young child in a refrigerator. It had been videotaped, which was put out on Snapchat.”
“The Department of Children and Families (DCF) received a report on this situation and is investigating in collaboration with law enforcement,” a DCF spokesperson said.
The mother of the infant told WBZ-TV that one of the girls in the video is her niece and added that the baby is not hurt. She said that her 15-year-old niece and the girl’s 14-year-old friend were watching the baby while she showered.
The mother told WBZ-TV that she didn’t understand why the girls would do what they did, and was very angry when she found out. Police had reportedly showed her the video.
“It was their stupidity and they thought it was a joke,” the mother said. “I feel like they learned from this lesson and they wouldn’t do it again. I know my niece. She’s a good hearted girl.”
One Swampscott resident, who requested anonymity, said his daughter goes to school with the two alleged perpetrators. He said the girls are incoming freshmen at Swampscott High School, and that his daughter saw their video on Snapchat.
He said he had his daughter send the video to him, and deleted it from her phone. He said one girl was shooting the video while the other girl carried and put the baby in the refrigerator. He sent the video to Swampscott Police, and were told they already knew about it.
“They just thought it would be funny I guess,” he said. “I don’t even know what was going through their minds.”
As a parent, the man said he couldn’t even fathom having someone watch his child and have that activity go on.
“It’s just baffling that these kids could do that,” he said. “They’re supposed to be taking care of a little baby, not putting it in a refrigerator because it’s crying.”
The man said he thinks there should be some consequences for the girls, including losing some privileges at schools, such as those involving extracurricular activities.
“As this is an ongoing police investigation, we will not comment on the specifics of the case, or speculate on any action the district may take once all the facts have been determined,” said Swampscott School Superintendent Pamela Angelakis.
“We spend considerable time and resources educating students on the dangers of misusing social media,” Angelakis continued. “Digital citizenship is taught in computer science and library classes, and we have had a national expert address students on the topic. We communicate to parents the importance of monitoring their children’s online habits, especially with regard to social media. We will continue to foster an environment in which students see the critical importance of using the Internet only as a tool for enrichment, as it is intended.”