With both parents busy working all day and even night, some parents choose to hire foreign domestic workers to take care of their children while they’re at work. However, in recent months, Singapore has seen an alarming number of cases of child abuse by helpers.

Some parents have instead chosen to trust in preschools – after all, with so many teachers and CCTVs around, how could one get away with abuse right?

Unfortunately, it seems even children in preschools are not safe.

In the past, incidents like being hit on the knuckles with a ruler or public spanking were not uncommon.

If you’re from generation X or earlier generations, you’ve probably experienced or witnessed this first-hand.

Over the years, as the public has learned more about abuse and trauma, hitting or other violent incidents in schools are no longer tolerated.

And rightfully so. How could you let your child continue to be hit by his or her teachers?

Barely half a year since news of the Kinderland abuse saga first broke, more shocking allegations of mistreatment in preschools have surfaced.

This week, a parent and a preschool in the north-east made reports to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). The preschool will not be named in accordance with the Children and Young Persons Act.

The parent went to the police after the preschool management showed her CCTV footage of her son being allegedly reprimanded in a dark room last week.

Parent Noticed Troubling Behavioural Changes

Over the past one to two months, the parent noticed some troubling changes in her three-year-old son’s behaviour.

“He’s been reluctant to go to school, experiencing frequent nightmares, it can be really intense – he would scream saying NO NO NO, don’t beat me, I good boy please, and displaying concerning behaviour like hitting people and talking about unsettling things like hand chopping death and more,” the mother said in an Instagram story on 29 February.

Her son also came home with bruises on some occasions. When asked about it, he told her that his teacher had beat him. Initially, she did not believe him and said she would go to his school. Her son promptly changed his answer, saying he fell down instead.

The mother suspected that he may have been watching scary videos on YouTube, and  attributed his violent behaviour to that. She then confiscated his iPad and scolded him for hitting his brother.

One day, one of her son’s teachers pulled the mother aside to speak to her. The teacher hinted that her son was being mistreated, but said he could not say much about it. She prompted her to ask her son about it instead.

When asked about it, her son revealed that the teachers would often lock him in a dark room whenever he misbehaved. The mother confronted one of the teachers involved the next day but the teacher insisted it was simply miscommunication, and that the teachers had been comforting him in the dark room.

As the mother trusted this teacher, who was “the senior teacher and was also the “in charge””, she let her son carry on attending the preschool.

The Truth Comes to Light

After the preschool issued a circular informing her about three teachers mishandling a child, she knew something was up.

She then sat down with her son and assured him not to be afraid.

Her son then revealed everything that had happened. He began by saying he was reluctant to go to school as three of his teachers were “very harsh” and frequently hit him to the point where he had to close his eyes.

He said they would only hit and pinch him in the toilet (where there are no CCTVs).

He added that they threatened to “cut his hand” if he misbehaved or hit him harder if he told his parents about what they had done to him. This is why he changed his story when he previously told her his teachers had hit him.

As mentioned earlier, they would allegedly lock him in a dark room when he misbehaved. He would occasionally be joined by his classmates in the dark room, including his “girlfriend”.

When the mother shared his story on Instagram, several mothers also came forward, sharing similar disturbing experiences. Of the mothers, the son of one of the mothers had also allegedly been pinched by the same teachers.

In the CCTV footage the preschool showed to the mother, there were two teachers with angry facial expressions who appeared to be slamming the door and shouting at her son. This matched her son’s descriptions of the events.

It’s a heartbreaking scene no child should ever have to go through.

The Straits Times reported that father of another child in the preschool also spoke to his four-year-old son after receiving the circular. His son then admitted that he had also been locked in a dark room by teachers and hit on the hand.

The father said a WhatsApp group was created for parents, several of whom said their children had also been subjected to similar abuse. As of now, the WhatsApp group has at least 15 parents in it.

The three-year-old and four-year-old have since been taken out of the preschool.

ECDA visited the preschool unannounced, reviewed CCTV footage, carried out interviews, and verified records, as part of its investigations.

The three teachers in question have since been suspended by the preschool. ECDA will not allow the three to work in the same sector elsewhere while investigations are ongoing to protect other preschoolers.

The preschool has been instructed by ECDA to monitor the children closely and check on their well-being, as well as to closely supervise and guide its staff.

ECDA will take “firm action against pre-school educators and operators when they are found guilty of not fulfilling their duty of care to the children under their charge,” said an ECDA spokesperson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.