Broken bottles threaten Bombeck infants, toddlers

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By: Alise Jarmusz – Asst. News Editor

Glass beer bottles were found smashed in the infant and toddler outdoor playground at the Bombeck Family Learning Center, Monday, Sept. 8, according to the University of Dayton Police Department.

UDPD Maj. Larry Dickey said the director of the Bombeck Center contacted police Sept. 8.

“When [employees] came in Monday, they found that approximately four different glass beer bottles had been thrown inside the fenced-in area where the infants and young toddlers play. The bottles shattered, and there were small shards of broken glass that were all over the ground and in the mulch area,” Dickey said.

Michelle Donley, acting director of the Bombeck Center, said the scene caused distress.

“We do daily inspections of the playgrounds, and when we came out to see the area, we felt shock and disappointment for the disrespect and lack of pride that somebody had to actually do that to the playground,” Donley said.

Dean of Students Christine Schramm said the glass splinters necessitated the removal and replacement of all of the mulch within the playground.

“It’s pretty labor intensive [to clean up]. This happened in the infant section where there are little ones and toddlers crawling around. They had to strip the area of all its mulch…they can’t sift through it. They had to get all new mulch because they can’t take the chance of having any glass shards in that area,” Schramm said.

Donley said the university quickly took steps to resolve the issue. She said the clean up took two days to complete.

“The children did not have anywhere to play for those two days, so that was hard because it was our toddler playground. It is really important for them to get out and improve their motor development,” Donley said.

Dickey said there are no known suspects connected to the incident at this point.

“Smashing bottles is in the student handbook under environmental disrespect. We would refer [any student offenders] to the community standards and civility, and they will deal with any repercussions that would come out of that,” Dickey said.

Donley said the Bombeck Center will install more sophisticated security for their facility.

“We will be looking into security measures to identify people if they do decide to do something like that again. That way we can have something on camera so that we can identify the people and come to them and hold them responsible for what they’ve done,” she said.

Schramm said it is important to recognize that students may not have caused the incident.

“We certainly recognize that it may not have been a student. Many people walk back and forth there. But I think we have to acknowledge that potentially it could have been a student, and I sincerely hope that it’s not because we have the most vulnerable and youngest members of our family in…the Bombeck center,” she said.

Schramm also expressed her concern over upholding the principles of the university’s Commitment to Community and Catholic and Marianist values.

“Those kids are a part of our community. They live next door to us. Many of them are kids of employees and faculty and staff, but that’s even beside the point. You don’t have to be somebody’s kid to be a member of this community. They’re within the confines of our walls, both figuratively and literally,” Schramm said.

Grace Untener, a junior civil engineering student who lives near the Bombeck Center, said she was upset by the news.

“The Bombeck Center is in my backyard. I walk past it every day on my way to class. It’s a shame that students could have disrespected the playground,” she said.

Donley urged students to “take pride in the community and take pride in what we have here at the university.”