2 held over claims of abuse at kindergarten in Beijing

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Two women have been detained in connection with alleged abuse at a Beijing kindergarten.
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Two women have been detained in connection with alleged abuse at a Beijing kindergarten.

Authorities in the capital’s Chaoyang District opened an investigation into the RYB Education New World kindergarten last Wednesday after parents said toddlers had apparent needle marks and were given mysterious pills.

Several teachers were suspended the following day, pending a police investigation.

Police said they had performed forensic tests and obtained surveillance footage for their investigation.

Xinhua news agency said children were also “reportedly sexually molested” but gave no further details.

Officials have so far declined to confirm or provide more details about the allegations against RYB, which is run by a company that started trading on the New York stock exchange in September.

But the incident prompted the State Council’s education steering committee to call for an “immediate” investigation into all kindergartens across the country.

A 22-year-old teacher surnamed Liu from north China’s Hebei Province was detained on Saturday “on suspicion of abusing those under her care,” the Chaoyang branch of Beijing’s public security bureau said in an online statement.

The kindergarten is adjacent to a large military base and rumors online alleged that military officials there were “involved” in sexually abusing the children.

The police statement said a 31-year-old woman from Beijing, also surnamed Liu, had been detained two days previously for “using the Internet to fabricate and disseminate fake news.”

‘Deep repentance’

It added that the woman had expressed “deep repentance” for fabricating a story that military personnel from what she called the “Tiger Group” were abusing children, and for spreading these “illegal facts” on social media.

The husband of the school’s director was once an official at the base, its political commissioner told the PLA Daily last Friday, but said there was so far no evidence that military personnel had been involved in any abuse.

RYB’s CEO Shi Yinlai apologized “deeply” for the “severe disquiet” caused by the accusations, according to CGTN, the English-language news channel of state broadcaster CCTV.

“If any wrongdoing is found, we will not shirk the responsibility,” she said, according to CGTN.

The kindergarten has around 20 children in a bilingual class with four teachers, including one foreigner.

RYB Education directly operates 80 kindergartens and has franchised another 175 in 130 cities across China for children ranging from newborns to 6-year-olds, according to its Nasdaq listing.

A Chaoyang official said on Saturday that the owner of the kindergarten had been asked to remove the principal from duty.

The Chaoyang government also sent officials to the kindergarten and asked it to communicate with parents to make sure that the children there are safe.

Beijing’s education commission said it would provide psychological counseling.

In April, RYB suspended the head of a Beijing kindergarten and apologized after admitting that teachers committed “severe mistakes.” The Beijing News had obtained videos showing teachers throwing a child on a bed and kicking another in the back.

The People’s Court Daily reported that two teachers from an RYB kindergarten in Jilin Province were sentenced to 34 months in prison for jabbing children in the head, inside their mouths, and on their legs and buttocks with sewing needles in October 2016.


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