Woman posts alarming picture of toddler with Down syndrome in washing machine
A 21-year-old woman, Courtney Stewart, was reported to the police after putting a 2-year-old boy with Down syndrome in the washing machine. She reportedly put the boy into the machine so that she could take a picture, which she posted to Facebook, for laughs.
The photo posted to Stewart's Facebook page shows an adult's hand holding the washing machine door closed with the toddler inside the machine. While Stewart does have children of her own, she is not this boy's mother. He was in her care at the time of the incident.
The young mother from Erksine, Renfrewshire reportedly said that the boy "loves the washing machine. We took a picture and it was a laugh."
Some people were not amused by Stewart's sense of humor. Neighbors reported the event to police, noting that they were concerned for the child's safety. One neighbor told the Daily Record:
"It was terrible to look at. For anyone, let alone someone who is also a parent, to take a picture like that and stick it on Facebook for a laugh is unbelievable. It's no wonder people are angry about it. People in the town have been talking about it, because anyone who has seen it has been left shocked."
As a defense, Stewart told the Daily Record:
"[The boy] is clearly laughing in the pictures. So I don't understand why somebody took that picture as – well, I don't know what they took it as. What did they think I was doing to him? Taking him for a spin? He's got a bit of a washing obsession. Anyone who knows him would know he's got a washing obsession. I don't know who reported it. I don't really know why they would do that. I think it's absolutely ridiculous."
After the incident was reported to the police, Stewart removed the photo from Facebook. She told the Daily Record:
"It's horrible having the police at the door thinking you're a bad person. I was shocked, but in a sense I'm glad they didn't just take it as a joke and not come and see me. So I was thankful in that way."
After questioning Stewart for over an hour, the police decided not to press charges. However, a police spokesperson confirmed that the police gave Stewart advice and made sure she understood appropriate childcare. She said:
"Advice was given. Relevant child care checks were made."
Stewart has received intense backlash since the incident, which occurred last Thursday. She said that she was even physically attacked by a stranger:
"I got assaulted by a woman. She came to my door and said...she wouldn't let me anywhere near her kids. It happened on my doorstep at 11 o'clock in the morning. I got assaulted in my own home."
The 42-year-old woman who allegedly attacked Stewart was arrested.
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