Two Pennsylvania teenagers are facing child endangerment charges after officials said they allowed a toddler to inhale from a vaping device. The Pennsylvania State Police says the teen girls, ages 17 and 18, recorded video of the incident and shared it using Snapchat.
Investigators received a tip alerting them to the video. Troopers then notified the toddler’s parents, who had been unaware that their child had accessed a vaping device.
Police have not released the names of the teens, even though one of them is a legal adult.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. One of the Teens Was Babysitting When the Toddler Grabbed the Vaping Device From a Nightstand
The incident happened in St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania, located about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. The 17-year-old teen from Seward was babysitting for the 2-year-old child on January 9, 2020.
The 18-year-old woman, who police said was from Armagh, was also present at the home but police did not specify why she was there. According to a news release from the Pennsylvania State Police, the toddler grabbed a vaping device from a nightstand and began to use it. The device reportedly belonged to one of the girls.
The teenagers did not take the device away from the toddler, police said. Instead, they allowed the boy to inhale from it and recorded a video of him in the process. In the clip, you can see one of the girls sitting next to the boy and holding up her phone as if to snap a photo. The other teen can be heard laughing.
2. Police: The Vaping Device Did Not Contain Marijuana & the Boy Did Not Appear to Suffer Any Injuries
The Pennsylvania State Police said that the vaping device was believed to contain about 3 percent nicotine. It did not include THC, which is the chemical found in marijuana that makes users feel high.
In the clip, the little boy sits down and coughs. But police say the child did not appear to suffer any injuries or any other adverse effects from using the vaping device.
The teenagers are not related to the child, police said. Officials with Children and Youth Services were also alerted to the incident.
3. The Toddler’s Mother Said She Was ‘Disgusted’ By the Video & That She Doesn’t Trust Anyone to Babysit Her Child Anymore
The mother of the little boy spoke with local news station WPXI-TV, but not did share her name or allow her face to be shown on camera. She told the reporter that she was “disgusted” by what had happened. She added that she was in “disbelief” that the two girls had left the vaping device within reach of the toddler. The mother said that she was under the impression that the device belonged to one of the two girls.
The boy’s mother said she was not aware of what had happened until a Pennsylvania State trooper showed up at her front door three days after the video was shared on social media. She says that she no longer feels comfortable with the idea of having any babysitter watch her child, and is hesitant to trust any daycare facilities either.
4. Police Learned the Names of the Two Girls Involved From School Officials
As referenced earlier, police have not publicly released the names of the two girls involved. But according to Fox affiliate WPMT-TV in Pittsburgh, both of the teens were said to be seniors in the United School District in Armagh, Pennsylvania.
Superintendent Barbara Perkins released a brief statement about the incident. She said that the district had provided the names of the students to law enforcement. “United administration was made aware of the video today, and the matter is being investigated by the authorities. We believe that two of our students were involved in the situation.”
She added that the teens would not face additional punishment at school.
5. The Teen Girls May Face Fines Or Be Ordered to Attend Counseling
The two teens are facing charges of “Endangering Welfare of Children.” According to the Pennsylvania legal code, the charge may be a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony based on the severity and the duration of the accused crime. If a child was placed at risk of serious bodily harm, the offense would be upgraded to a second-degree felony.
The charge is defined as:
“A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.”
If convicted, the teens may be ordered to undergo counseling, according to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The maximum sentence for Endangering the Welfare of Children is up to 5 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.