Videos showing toddlers being mistreated at a Shanghai day-care centre have sparked an outcry in China after being circulated widely online.
The first video, viewed tens of millions of times, shows a woman wrenching a backpack from a small girl’s back and then pushing her into a table, where she hits her head.
The footage was released by police after parents said they had found injuries on their children and demanded to see what the centre’s surveillance cameras had recorded.
Two other videos have since emerged – more surveillance footage showing a woman force-feeding a child and making her cry and another video in which a child tells her parents that she had “something spicy” rubbed on her face, which is thought to have been wasabi.
The children in the videos were aged between 18 months and two years old.
It is understood that about 25 children attended classes at the centre, which was set up in February this year and used by employees of the online travel company Ctrip.
One mother said her 18-month-old daughter had kept crying after attending nursery, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported.
“My daughter had peed six times in an hour and the teacher beat her with a quilt. She did not change her nappy in time and when she did change the nappy, she pulled up one of the baby’s legs while having her stand in a corner of the room, rather than letting her lie down,” she said.
A parent surnamed Wang said that after they complained to Ctrip the company chose a day’s footage at random and they were shocked by the results.
Three teachers and a cleaner have been detained and the nursery has suspended all its classes pending a police investigation.
The company Modern Family, which runs the centre, says it accepts liability and will cooperate with the authorities.
Ctrip told news website The Paper that it would arrange medical checks and psychological support for the children and their parents.
‘Sad and angry’
Jane Sun, the CEO of Ctrip has told Chinese media: “By inviting a third-party agency to run the nursery, our original intention was to have a professional and qualified team look after the kids of Ctrip.
“We are sad and angry to see a thing that we had never expected has happened. On behalf of the company, I extend my sincere apologies to the involved families and children.”
Tens of thousands of social media users have taken the popular Sina Weibo microblogging site, expressing anger and concern about the incident.
“This is shocking, I am a preschool teacher and a mother,” says one user. “I watched this video, and I felt sick, anger and fear all at the same time,” she said, receiving 4,000 likes.
Another user added: “There are frequently cases of child abuse coming out into the open. Is the government going to improve its education and assessment of nursery school teachers?” The comment has been liked over 9,000 times.
There have been many similar stories in recent years that have ignited fears among new parents over how safe the nurseries are that they send their children to.
In January, the hashtag #TeacherBeatsDeafChild went viral after video footage emerged showing a nursery teacher hitting a deaf child.
A one-minute video showed her slapping a child’s ears and then shaking him, before violently throwing him on the ground.
Social media users demanded that staff be given preliminary screening for working with children who have special conditions.
In February 2016, hundreds of thousands of Weibo users reacted angrily to the extreme case of “Lucy”, a five-year-old child who had been sent to an out-of-town boarding school by her father.
She had been sent home with “necrotic ulcers and infections”, contusions, haemorrhages and was malnourished, Sina News reported at the time.