Chinese Police Probe Abuse Scandal at a Beijing Kindergarten

beijing-kindergarten-11242017.jpg People stand in front of the main gate of the RYB New World Kindergarten in Beijing's Chaoyang district, Nov. 24, 2017.

Police in the Chinese capital have begun investigated alleged abuse of children at a kindergarten run by a New York-listed education company amid accusations of sexual and physical abuse.

Some teachers at the RYB Education New World kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang district were suspended as police confiscated surveillance footage and carried out forensic tests, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Some parents said their children had been sexually abused, while others said pupils had been “pierced by needles and given unidentified pills,” it said.

Parents began reporting their concerns to police late on Wednesday, with a large group prevented from entering the school on Thursday.

“Different parents are trying to find out about their own kid, if it’s true,” a parent of a child in International Class 2 told RFA. “They are being told that it’s true.”

The parent said at least one parent had taken their child to hospital for immediate examination.

“They were told that [the doctors found] anal fissures,” the parent said, calling for a full investigation into all reports of abuse.

“We hope that the police will be able to get hold of the school surveillance footage as soon as possible,” the parent said.

State media quoted other parents as saying that their children had been force-fed pills, while others said their children were “too young” to be sure if sexual abuse had taken place.

And online news portal quoted others as saying that their children had been pricked by sewing needles or had unidentified “yellowish and brown sweet-tasting fluids” squirted into their mouths by staff at the kindergarten. Others reported being given sweet-tasting white-colored pills.

A mother surnamed Zhao said her daughter had told her that she had been given “injections” by the teacher, and found small puncture marks on her child’s skin.

“When she started telling me about it, at first I thought she was talking rubbish, so I went to ask the teacher, who said she didn’t know anything about it,” Zhao told RFA.

“According to our kid, the teachers would bundle the children into a small, dark room,” she said.

Powerful telescope

Zhao said her three-year-old daughter had been warned not to tell anyone what was going on.

“They said they had a very powerful telescope that enabled them to see into the kids’ homes, to see what they were doing,” she said. “If they told anyone about this stuff, they would get into trouble.”

An employee who answered the phone at the kindergarten hung up as soon as they heard the nature of the enquiry from RFA.

And an official who answered the phone at the Chaoyang district police department said they weren’t able to give interviews.

The Beijing abuse allegations emerged just days after authorities in Shanghai launched a probe into abuse allegations at a workplace nursery run on behalf of travel firm Ctrip.

Three members of staff at the nursery, run by a parenting magazine under the aegis of the Shanghai branch of the All China Women’s Federation, were detained, and the facility shut down after video footage of the abuse was posted online.

A Beijing parent surnamed Wang, who has a child in a different kindergarten, said parents are all anxious about where the next abuse allegations will come from.

“If you ask one kid, then two, then all of those other kids, and they are all saying it, then it’s true, isn’t it?” Wang said. “They can check the surveillance footage but surveillance cameras can be avoided. If it can’t be seen, it didn’t happen.”

“What can you do? The state of this country,” she said.

A kindergarten principal from the central province of Hubei surnamed Li said there is huge demand from working parents for daycare, which is currently being filled by largely unregulated private companies.

“Ninety-nine percent of them are privately run, and … they want to turn a profit, and the rules for recruiting kindergarten teachers round here are pretty relaxed,” she said.

“With such a low entry threshold, it’s hard to avoid this sort of thing happening,” Li said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wong Lok-to for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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