Another teacher detained in suspected child abuse case

Updated: 2012-10-26 08:05

By Luo Wangshu and An Baijie (China Daily)

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 Another teacher detained in suspected child abuse case

In this screenshot from micro-blogging website Sina Weibo, a teacher pulls up a boy by his ears at Lankongque Kindergarten in Wenling, Zhejiang province.

Images showing preschooler being held by his ears sparks online fury

A second preschool teacher has been detained over online images that appear to show her abusing children in Zhejiang province.

In a photo shared by millions of netizens, Yan Yanhong - an uncertified teacher - is seen holding up a child by his ears.

The picture and a related video clip, were taken at the privately owned Lankongque Kindergarten in Wenling, and originally uploaded to Yan's QQ instant-messenger account.

Police in Wenling on Thursday posted a statement on Sina Weibo, a popular micro-blogging website, that said Yan and Tong Qingqing, a teacher who allegedly took the picture, had been detained.

The news came after a teacher in Shanxi province was detained after being filmed by a surveillance camera slapping a 5-year-old girl in the face 70 times for being unable to solve a math problem.

Both incidents have outraged China's online community, and as of Thursday the topic was at top of Sina Weibo's most-discussed list, with 4 million posts.

Many people have put the spotlight on the behavior of preschool teachers, and some of the netizens called for better monitoring in classrooms.

Dire shortage

According to initial reports, neither Yan nor Li Zhuqing, the teacher detained in Shanxi's capital, Taiyuan, had the required certificates to teach kindergarten.

This, industry insiders say, is a common problem - particularly at unlicensed preschools - that is due to the dire shortage in China of qualified preschool teachers.

"Good and bad teachers are intermingled," said Wang Xiaoyan, deputy director of the National Center for Educational Development Research. "However, teachers without the proper certificates may not understand child development," she said, adding that Yan possibly did not realize what she was doing constitutes child abuse.

The incidents have spread fear among many parents that their children could be in danger.

Guo Wenhao, the father of a 2-year-old girl in Beijing, said he now plans to postpone sending his daughter to preschool.

"I would lose control if I saw my daughter had been abused by a teacher," said the 31-year-old. "Honestly, I don't want to send her to kindergarten. I am afraid that she won't have a good teacher."

Despite his concerns, Guo conceded that he felt the recent cases were extreme and isolated.

Li Jing, deputy director of Highscope International Kindergarten, a private preschool in Beijing, agreed the case appeared to be one offs.

Yet, schools are under increasing pressure when it comes to recruitment, compounded by the fact that not even some certified teachers are qualified for the job, she said.

"Kindergartens have a high turnover," she said. "Almost every kindergarten, even in Beijing, is constantly trying to hire teachers."

Li insisted all teachers at her school have certificates and said: "Although we have small class sizes, teachers can't watch every corner, so we have cameras in classrooms and corridors.

"Cameras help avoid accidents and allow us to root out teachers who are abusive," she added. "If we find a teacher abusing children, he or she will be fired immediately."

Big business

The case can be very different out in the countryside.

Deng Yinghua, 35, president of a private kindergarten in Wulian county, Shandong province, said that although she does not have the proper licenses, her business is booming.

"There is just one public kindergarten to serve the villages nearby, and that doesn't accept children under the age of 5," she said. "As a result, most parents would rather send their children here to receive some basic language training."

Deng, who used to be a barber, opened the kindergarten three years ago when her son was 3 years old. There are nearly 30 children in her kindergarten now.

"I just want to give the children a colorful life here in the kindergarten, since most of their parents don't have much time to take care of them," she said.

The tuition fee is 800 yuan ($130) a year, which is affordable for most villagers, she said.

Deng said she pays close attention to safety issues, especially as the school has no fire extinguisher. She said she simply repeats warnings to the children "not to play with fire".

Xu Yun, 26, who has sent her daughter to Deng's kindergarten since last year, said she was confident about the kindergarten's safety condition because "Deng has always had a good reputation".

"There might be some flaws in her kindergarten but I am satisfied with its low cost," she said. "Besides, when my 3-year-old recited an ancient poem after being in the kindergarten for several weeks, I felt very happy."

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(China Daily 10/26/2012 page7)