TOMS RIVER – Three program counselors were suspended after they allegedly had children sit on blacktop so hot that it burned their skin. Township officials are telling parents that their children are safe at the summer recreation programs while the investigation continues.
A parent, whose name is being withheld to protect the identity of her child, said that the class was punished for “messing up the art room.” According to a social media post, the entire class was made to sit on the blacktop and watch the counselors play basketball. They were told that if they complained, they had to sit another 10 minutes. Sitting on the blacktop caused, according to the mother, second degree burns on the child’s rear end, and his hands when he sat on them when the heat got to be too much.
A spokeswoman for the township reported that the three program counselors responsible for this incident were “immediately and indefinitely suspended.”
“This isolated and unfortunate incident, however, should in no way deter participation in Toms River’s exceptional youth programs. Providing a safe and enjoyable environment for all children involved is the township’s highest priority,” the statement read. The statement also said that there would be no further public comment about this until the investigation into the matter is completed.
The township is conducting its own investigation. A spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said that the issue is being investigated by the State Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly known as DYFS). The prosecutor’s office is not involved at this time.
“Specifically, it was alleged that camp counselors instructed the child to sit on black top and the child suffered burns to his hands as a result. The allegation, facts and circumstances were subsequently reviewed by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victim’s Unit. At this time, this matter does not appear to be criminal in nature, as there was no criminal intent associated with the actions of the camp counselors. This matter has been referred back to the Division of Child Permanency & Protection’s Institutional Abuse Unit for whatever action they deem appropriate,” the prosecutor’s office said in statement July 3.
Jason Allentoff contributed to this report.