Alleged abuse at childcare centres under probe

A photo has been posted on social media purportedly showing pupils from Sam's Early Learning Centre lying on the floor without mattresses. The authorities are investigating two alleged cases of child abuse at separate childcare centres here.
A photo has been posted on social media purportedly showing pupils from Sam's Early Learning Centre lying on the floor without mattresses. The authorities are investigating two alleged cases of child abuse at separate childcare centres here. PHOTO: WEIXIN.QQ.COM

The authorities are investigating two alleged cases of child abuse at separate childcare centres here.

On Tuesday, photos were posted on Chinese social media site WeChat showing pupils from Sam's Early Learning Centre in River Valley lying on the floor without mattresses.

Other photos showed fruit in the kitchen area, with captions accusing the centre of feeding rotten fruit to the children. Another photo showed a child lying in a cot with a used diaper next to him and faeces smeared on his bare bottom.

In response to media queries, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which regulates kindergartens and childcare centres, said it was aware of the online post about Sam's Early Learning Centre and is investigating it.

"The safety and well-being of children in childcare centres are of utmost importance to ECDA," a spokesman said. "Under the Child Care Centres Act, all childcare centres are required to meet the stipulated regulatory requirements to protect the safety, well-being and welfare of children in centres."

Police confirmed that a report has been lodged and they are looking into the matter.

When The Straits Times called Sam's Early Learning Centre yesterday, a woman said some of the photos were taken last year. She also said the captions were "not true".

In a report by Shin Min Daily News yesterday, the centre's principal was quoted as saying that the WeChat posting might have been the act of a former employee.

In the second alleged case, involving the Sparkletots childcare centre in Teck Whye, a parent claimed in a Facebook posting that she had found bruises on her 18-month-old child's forehead, back and legs.

Facebook user Mel Da, who has pulled her child from the centre, wrote: "I saw my son, held by his ankles by the teacher, was struggling as he was pressed down by the teacher's elbow on his back."

She said she confronted the principal and reviewed closed-circuit television camera footage that confirmed the incident. The principal apologised, but the mother said she found another bruise on her son's stomach the next day.

ECDA said it was also aware of this case but is unable to comment as it is under police investigation.

PAP Community Foundation, which manages Sparkletots pre-schools, told The Straits Times it takes a serious view of the incident. "We have conducted our investigation and reported this matter to the relevant authorities. We are now assisting with their ongoing investigations," a spokesman said.

ECDA added that it is working with the Sparkletots centre to "ensure the safety and well-being of the other children at the centre".


  • Additional reporting by Chew Hui Min
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2017, with the headline 'Alleged abuse at childcare centres under probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe