2018-01-08 11:07:36

A kindergarten in southwestern China has denied allegations that a teacher injured a 5-year-old girl — and says surveillance footage of the schoolyard is not available because the circuitry was destroyed by mice, Chongqing Morning Post reported Sunday. The incident has once again brought public attention to preschools after a series of abuse allegations last year.

The girl spent 28 days in the hospital after falling and fracturing her elbow in November at Qingbo Red Apple Kindergarten in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Her mother, Zheng Xin, believes that a teacher deliberately pushed her.

The day before the accident, the girl told her mother that a teacher surnamed Wang had slapped her for chatting during class. Zheng then discussed the issue with the head of the kindergarten. “I suspect that the teacher took revenge on my daughter for reporting it,” Zheng told Chongqing Morning Post. “My daughter said that someone pushed her while she was doing jumping exercises.”

The head of the kindergarten, who used the pseudonym Liu Yuan in her interview with Chongqing Morning Post, denied that the girl had been pushed or slapped. “The kindergarten bears some degree of responsibility for the accident, but regrettably, the wiring for the CCTV system in the playground was chewed by mice,” Liu said.

Zheng demanded 400,000 yuan ($61,500) in compensation for her daughter’s injury, but Liu said the kindergarten had done its part and would not pay more than 20,000 yuan, adding that she would prefer the issue to be resolved through a legal process rather than direct negotiation.

Zhang Xinnian, a lawyer at Beijing Jingsh Law Firm, told Sixth Tone that according to Chinese tort law, educational organizations bear the burden of proof in any case involving injuries to their wards. “If the kindergarten cannot prove that it has fulfilled its management responsibilities, then it is culpable and should compensate,” said Zhang.

The safety of children in preschools has been a heated topic in China since several alarming stories made headlines last year. In November, a Shanghai day care center was shut after toddlers were fed wasabi, and weeks later parents alleged that they found needle marks on their children who attended a Beijing facility that was part of the RYB Education chain — a New York Stock Exchange-listed company — though police later dispelled most of the allegations. 

The high-profile wave of child abuse cases has moved government and civil society groups to action. In November, the Ministry of Education ordered a nationwide inspection into kindergarten safety, and on Sunday, a group of volunteers launched an online platform where parents can look up past cases gathered from media reports, government documents, and court records.

Editor: Qian Jinghua.

(Header image: VCG)