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Arkansas Daycare Allegedly Fed 4-Year-Old Hot Sauce as Punishment

4-year-old boy Tanner

The mother of a 4-year-old boy claims that her son was forced to consume hot sauce at his daycare on May 19 as a punishment for hitting a classmate. 

Melaina Whitley tells Us Weekly that Tanner, who has special needs, was picked up early from Friendship Pediatric Services in Bryant, Arkansas, because he had a fever and was throwing up. Whitley assumed he just had a bug. But a few days later, Tanner made a comment that left her reeling. “He said, ‘I got hot sauce at school,’” says the stay-at-home mom. “He said it was hot and he had to get water. I’m assuming that [the teacher] really had to force the hot sauce down.”

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While retelling the story, Tanner was visibly shaken. “He was upset and kept saying, ‘It’s not funny,” Whitley says. “So maybe they were laughing when it happened. But I wasn’t laughing.”

After confronting the teacher about the alleged incident, Whitley contacted the police. 


The daycare’s director, Karla Curry, told a police officer that the teacher admitted to pouring hot sauce in Tanner’s mouth “for not listening and hitting other children,” according to a police report obtained by Us. The teacher “stated that this is common discipline for children in her culture,” per the police report. 

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Melaina Whitley, Tanner and Peighton
Melaina Whitley with her son Tanner and daughter Peighton

ABC7 noted that according to Division of Children and Family Services in Arkansas, the only approved discipline method is issuing a time-out. 

Whitley says the teacher is still employed at the school.

Friendship Pediatric Services said they had no comment when contacted by Us Weekly. Curry told ABC7 that the daycare is fully cooperating with the DHS investigation.