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    Teacher Sentenced in Beijing Kindergarten Abuse Scandal

    A court on Friday sentenced Liu Ya’nan to 18 months in prison for using needles to punish children.

    A teacher involved in last year’s high-profile kindergarten abuse scandal was sentenced on Friday to 18 months in prison.

    The defendant, Liu Ya’nan, had been employed at a private kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang District. RYB Education, the company that operates the school, is one of China’s largest early childhood education providers. In November 2017, Beijing police launched an investigation after parents reported they suspected their children of being abused at the school. Some even alleged that their kids were being molested and given tablets and injections without parental consent.

    Although the police investigation determined that the claims of molestation and drugging were unfounded, Liu was detained on suspicion of using sewing needles to punish children who refused to sleep during naptime. In May, Chaoyang District’s prosecutor charged Liu with child abuse.

    According to the court’s verdict, Liu had used needles on four children in November 2017. In addition to the jail sentence, the court barred Liu from working in education or child care for five years after her prison sentence.

    In a statement on Friday, RYB Education said that it opposes child abuse and will respect the court’s decision. “Although this is about the behavior of one individual — and although the vicious rumors have been refuted by police and mainstream media — this case proves that we must constantly strive to improve our management,” the company said.

    The public outcry over the case prompted the Ministry of Education to order a nationwide inspection of kindergartens and their staff. The Beijing government even passed a regulation requiring that every square meter of kindergartens in the city be monitored by security cameras.

    Editor: David Paulk.

    (Header image: An exterior view of the RYB Education kindergarten where a teacher used sewing needles to punish children, Beijing, Nov. 23, 2017. Da Yan/VCG)