Speech rehab centre in China fires 3 teachers accused of abusing children with disabilities

Speech rehab centre in China fires 3 teachers accused of abusing children with disabilities
PHOTO: The New Paper

A rehabilitation centre in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, that was accused of abusing children with disabilities has been suspended, a local association for people with disabilities said on Monday.

The Nanchang Disabled Persons Federation said a task force has been formed to assist public security authorities as they look into the incident.

"We will deal with the incident in a transparent way and make the investigation results public in a timely manner," the federation said.

Yu Ying, secretary-general of the federation, said three teachers at the Nanchang Outlook Language Rehabilitation and Training Center suspected of abusing children have been fired.

Before that, a video clip exposed by local media showed some staff members at a rehabilitation centre slapping the faces of children who were receiving treatment at the centre and beating them with sticks.

The children, who were unable to hear or speak, struggled to express their anger and grief.

The centre is a four-story building in the northern part of Nanchang. It was established in 2001 and was licensed as a social service organisation in 2010. It accepted preschool children with hearing or speaking disabilities and charged 18,000 to 28,000 yuan (S$3,640 to S$5,660) per child annually.

The clip went viral online and caused an uproar among netizens, with many criticising the centre as "ruthless and merciless".

Internet users also called for an investigation and punishment for the child abusers.

The Nanchang Disabled Persons Federation said in the announcement that it was sorry to hear about the incident and apologised sincerely to the children and their parents.

"We'll conduct an overall inspection of all children's rehabilitation centres across the city to ensure the rights of people with disabilities and to avoid similar incidents from happening again," it said.

Tong Xiaojun, director of a research institute dealing with juveniles and children, affiliated with China Youth University of Political Studies, said rehabilitation centres are different from ordinary schools or training agencies as they cater specifically to children with disabilities.

"These children need special care and protection, and rehabilitation centres should be held responsible for their safety," she said.

Supervisors at the centres, including local federations, should draft regulations to ensure that the centres are behaving properly in educating and protecting the children, she said.

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