Back in 2019, a mom was left stunned when she'd found out her young son had been breastfed by a member of staff at his daycare center... all without her permission.
Very weird, right? But shockingly so, you would be concerned to know that as of writing, there are no laws prohibiting this.
Stephanie Hanna was picking up her then fifteen-month-old son, Westley, from Happy Kids Pre-School Daycare in Shingle Springs, California, and was left shocked when she overheard 2 of her son's teachers talking in a hallway.
"He's obsessed with boobs!" one teacher reportedly said to the other.
Though first hesitating at seeing Stephanie approach, they told her the story of what happened: "Okay, I was feeding [my baby] and he [Westley] was staring at me so I was like, 'Well, just stick it in there and see what he does.'"
The teacher carried on with her horrific tale: "He had some on his lip and was like [licked her bottom lip slowly], but he liked it!"
Stephanie told CafeMom: "Then they both looked at me, to which I tried to act as normal as possible because I was so shocked by what she had just told me. So I continued signing Westley out and then looked up and said to them, 'Well, he likes food!'."
"I felt violated and disturbed by the sexual comments made about the incident, and that this teacher told me she put her breast in my son's mouth, he ingested her breast milk and acted like it was totally fine," Stephanie added when looking back on the incident.
The mom explained how she didn't have anything against breastfeeding and had in fact had breastfed her own children as infants.
"I went over to my mother's house right after leaving the daycare and told her what had happened, and she was surprised the teacher would do that," Stephanie explained. "But she also said that breast milk is food and there are milk donors out there."
However, it was Westley's father, Cooper, who was less willing to let the incident pass by. He understandably contacted the daycare director who promised to rectify the situation and call Stephanie immediately. However, according to the couple, the call never came.
Well, she consequently took the matter to the day care's assistant director but was once again stunned by the response she received.
"She can't speak English very well and probably mixed up her words and didn't mean to say that to you," the mom claimed she was told. "I responded that this teacher could speak English perfectly fine and that I had been speaking to her the past few years."
Next came a phone call with the daycare owner and the director -- during which Stephanie said the director yelled: "It accidentally squirted in his mouth!"
They then decided this was the final straw, reporting to the state licensing board and removing Westley from the daycare immediately: "The licensing board representative who interviewed us said that our son's personal rights had been absolutely violated and that they would be investigating the complaint," Stephanie said.
Next, it was the police: "The El Dorado County Sheriff's office actually took a couple of hours to call me back after reporting it to their non-emergency line, and he told me it took him so long to contact me because he had never heard of anything like this in his 19 years of law enforcement and neither had his senior partners."
"The sheriff forwarded the report to the sex crimes detectives, who were also shocked and disgusted but determined there is no law against breastfeeding someone else's child without consent," she shared. "And because my son couldn't testify against the daycare worker and daycare itself, it would be my word against hers."
The next port of call was to file a civil suit against the daycare center, which is exactly what they did. During their civil litigation, the unnamed teacher gave a deposition sharing her side of the story. In it, the woman testified that she frequently breastfed in the classroom without a cover on, and regularly exposed her breasts with other infants and preschoolers in the room. In fact, she estimated that it happened approximately 3 times a day -- during her thirty-minute lunch and 2 ten-minute breaks.
According to Stephanie, the woman also claimed that it was another teacher who picked Westley up that day and put him next to her because he seemed curious. When they did, she repeated the story that the daycare director had told the Hannas about the breast milk "accidentally squirting" into Westley's mouth. An incident report wasn't written, the daycare worker claimed because they felt it would be better to tell the boy's mother in person.
Even now, 2 years after the incident occurred, Stephanie and her family are still waiting for justice. The civil litigation -- which took months of preparation before it began -- is ongoing. But what Stephanie wants more than anything is to see legislation passed that would make breastfeeding another parent's child without their consent illegal.
This month, the mother started a Change.org petition in hopes of doing just that, with around 7,500 signatures.