'Kids abused', so preschool chain to install CCTVs

'Kids abused', so preschool chain to install CCTVs
A 2½ years old child is allegedly abused physically by her nursery teacher at Chiltern House at Orchard Road on 22 May 2015. Her mother noticed that her ears were unusually red.

Preschool chain Chiltern House will be installing CCTVs in all its five centres this month, after two parents filed police reports accusing a teacher at the school's Orchard Road branch of abusing their toddlers.

The two mothers claimed that the teacher had twisted their daughters' ears and rubbed their faces roughly in an incident last month, The New Paper reported on Tuesday.

One of the parents, who wanted to be known only as Madam Yap, told The Straits Times that she found that her child had reddened ears and scratches on her face, after picking her up from the centre in Forum The Shopping Mall on May 22.

"I tried asking her what happened but she refused to say," said Madam Yap, 41.

She said it was only in the evening when she was bathing her daughter that the toddler told her what happened. A teacher at the centre had allegedly locked her daughter and another girl in the diaper-changing room, where she was said to have pulled their ears and rubbed their faces roughly to force them to say that they liked her as a teacher.

Madam Yap, managing director of a European multinational company, then contacted the other toddler's mother, Madam Tan, 34, who found similar marks on her daughter's face and ears.

Madam Yap made a police report before taking her daughter for a check-up at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

She took the matter up with the school on May 25 and met the school's principal, along with several other parents, last Wednesday night.

At the meeting, they raised concerns about the lack of CCTVs at the centre and the recruitment of teachers, The New Paper reported.

When contacted, Chiltern chief executive officer Fiona Walker told The Straits Times that the school has handed over all information to police and is cooperating with the police.

"As the teacher under investigation is on leave, we will be replacing her in the centre," said Ms Walker.

She said the chain had never seen such allegations levelled at anyone at its centres and is "very concerned and is keen to get to the bottom of this".

Responding to the school's move to install CCTVs, Madam Yap welcomed it and said doing so will make the school a safer place, but added that she is planning to move her daughter to another school because she no longer trusts the school.

"I believe the girls were singled out by the teacher," she said, adding that both she and Madam Tan had earlier lodged a complaint against the teacher for her failure to separate two fighting children. They had also been unhappy with the teacher's inexperience and lack of initiative.

While they requested that their identities not be disclosed to the teacher, Madam Yap believes their identities and those of their daughters were made known to the teacher, who might have been upset with the feedback.

Both girls have since recovered, but Madam Yap's daughter still suffers from recurring nightmares and is afraid to be separated from her.

Meanwhile, most parents The Straits Times spoke to said the incident has not led them to consider pulling their children out of the school.

Said housewife Ashley Wolf, 42: "All the teachers know the kids' names, and my child is always very happy and loves school."

Others, however, said they might consider withdrawing their children if the abuse allegations prove to be true.

This article was first published on June 4, 2015.
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