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Chinese authorities investigate kindergarten abuse claims

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 23, 2017, 9:23 p.m.

A woman leaves with a child after telling the media she came to withdraw the child from the RYB kindergarten in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. (Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)
A woman leaves with a child after telling the media she came to withdraw the child from the RYB kindergarten in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. (Ng Han Guan / Associated Press)

BEIJING – Chinese authorities said Friday they’re investigating allegations that children were abused and molested at a kindergarten in Beijing run by a U.S.-listed company.

The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education said it would inspect other kindergartens in the Chinese capital, a day after the reports drew widespread attention.

The influential newsmagazine Caixin and other Chinese media outlets quoted parents saying their children were molested, forced to strip as punishment, found with unexplained needle marks on their bodies and made to take unidentified white pills.

The company, Beijing-based RYB Education, said in a statement it’s cooperating with the investigation and has suspended some teachers at the school.

Upset parents gathered outside the gates of the school at the center of the allegations.

“We need clarification. As parents, we have the right to question the school, don’t we?” said a father who gave only his surname, Wang, adding he wasn’t sure what to believe. “If it’s fake, why is there so much information, so many videos?”

It’s the second such case to spark online outrage in China this month. Earlier in November, surveillance footage emerged of abuse at a Shanghai daycare run by China’s largest online travel company, Ctrip. The video, uploaded by angry parents on Chinese social media, showed teachers slapping a crying girl, pushing a toddler to the ground, and force-feeding students a substance later confirmed to be wasabi.

“This is quite terrifying, especially because it is happening at a relatively expensive and well-known private institution,” said Zhang Yang, a mother in Beijing whose children didn’t attend RYB schools. “What if this is not an isolated incident and there are things like this happening everywhere?”

RYB and its franchisees operate 1,300 daycare centers and nearly 500 kindergartens in 300 Chinese cities, according to its website.

The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September, joining other Chinese providers capitalizing on rising demand from the country’s emerging middle class for educational services.


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