Kindergarten Teachers Detained After Recording Reveals Abuse
Two kindergarten teachers have been detained by police in eastern China following accusations of child abuse posted online by parents.
According to state news agency Xinhua, police in Ruian City, Zhejiang province, said that the teachers, surnamed Guo and Zhou, were detained for 14 and 12 days, respectively.
A staffer at the local police station told Sixth Tone that the teachers were detained on Saturday, but said to contact the municipal government’s publicity department for further comment. Calls to the publicity department on Monday went unanswered.
Authorities were alerted to the abuse by an online post in a forum focusing on Ruian. A user wrote on Thursday that teachers at privately owned Ruian Experimental Kindergarten beat children, hurt them with needles, and had punished a student by smearing Tiger Balm near the child’s eyes and locking the child in the bathroom.
The user attached screenshots of text messages sent among parents discussing the abuse and uploaded an audio file that a suspicious parent had captured by hiding a recording device in a child’s schoolbag. In the recording, a female voice can be heard repeatedly telling a child to sit down, with slapping sounds in the background. The child is crying, and the woman tells the youngster to shut up.
Later, the woman in the recording coaches the child to explain the incident to parents as an accident. “You need to tell Daddy, ‘I did it to myself by accident,’” she says. “Understand?”
According Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper, Ruian police compared the original audio file with closed-circuit video footage of the classroom in question and verified that the accused teachers had beaten children. But not all allegations against the teachers could be confirmed, and the investigation is ongoing.
The person who answered the phone at Ruian Experimental Kindergarten on Monday told Sixth Tone that she was unable to comment and that the school’s principal was unavailable.
The Ruian education bureau announced on Friday that the teachers involved in the abuse had been immediately suspended from their positions.
Wu Pinguo, deputy office director of the education bureau, told The Paper that the children involved in the case are between 2 and 3 years old and that there are 24 students in Zhou and Guo’s class.
The private kindergarten had been in operation for more than a decade and enjoyed a good reputation, Wu said, adding that no parents of children in other classes had reported any abuse.
The kindergarten has brought in psychological experts to provide counseling to the children in the class and refunded their parents’ tuition and related fees, according to The Paper.
“It’s difficult for children 2 to 3 years old to clearly say whether they were abused or not,” Yang Shuying, a criminal lawyer at Bejing’s Jingshi Law Firm, told Sixth Tone. She said police should document any physical evidence, such as children’s bruises and scars, as soon as possible.
Chinese law does not differentiate between abuse of adults and children, and only assault by family members constitutes abuse, Yang said. A teacher beating a student would be considered intentional assault, she added.
“The definition of who can be convicted of abuse should be expanded to include supervisory staff and organizations whose obligation it is to protect children,” said Yang. “Teachers have a duty to take care of children and ensure their health.”
(Header image: VCG)