LAST_UPDATETue, 22 May 2018 11pm

Singapore Teacher In Alleged Child Abuse Case Arrested

SINGAPORE: A 51-year-old teacher was arrested on Sunday in connection to an alleged child abuse case that took place at the NTUC My First Skool childcare centre in Toa Payoh on Friday.

The three-year-old boy's father said his son, who can be hyperactive, suffered a hairline fracture on his left shin.

NTUC First Campus, which operates My First Skool, said this was due to mishandling by the teacher. The teacher has since been suspended.

CCTV footage showing a woman dragging a boy across the floor and pushing him down with force has gone viral online. The woman is believed to be the child's teacher.

His parents were initially told by the childcare centre that he had a fall, but demanded to see the CCTV footage.

All centres under NTUC First Campus have been fitted with closed-circuit cameras since 2011.

The boy’s father, who is not named to protect the child’s identity, said: "I wanted to know how he fell down, because to my knowledge he can jump from anywhere… without having any bruises, without any cuts, because he knows how to have a safe landing and also how to take care of himself. So it was quite puzzling how he injured himself this time round."

At a news conference earlier Sunday, Chief Executive Officer of NTUC First Campus Chan Tee Seng said First Campus has already made arrangements for the boy to be transferred to another centre.

Help, including the cost of all medical expenses, would also be extended to the child and his parents.

"I was very, very disturbed and saddened by what I saw. The teacher's conduct was totally unacceptable and my heart, and those of my colleagues', go out to the child and his parents. Whatever the circumstances, such behaviour cannot be condoned, and I'm truly sorry that this has happened," he said.

Mr Chan also stressed that the centre did not attempt to hide anything from the boy's parents.

The boy’s parents, however, claim that the centre did not want them view the CCTV footage until internal investigations had been carried out. This led them to make a police report.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the teacher is an experienced diploma-trained childcare provider who has been teaching since 1997 and a part-time teacher with My First Skool since 2009.

NTUC First Campus also said that there have been no prior complaints about her mishandling students, and that the teacher was handling nine students on the day of the alleged incident -- lower than the recommended ratio of one teacher to 12 students for those of that age group.

NTUC First Campus has set up a dedicated line to address parents' concerns, and said that it would step up its engagement and training of staff to reinforce the right conduct, behaviour, and good practices.

It also added that it would continue to fully co-operate with the police, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, and the Early Childhood Development Agency.

Philip Koh, founder of the Preschool Teachers Network, said the incident is a reminder that there needs to be more consistency in ensuring teachers adopt best practices in managing children.

He said: "Teachers need to be mentored, teachers need to be heard, teachers need to be guided to ensure that a more conducive environment is provided, taking into account that teachers are not too stretched, or not too overloaded with lots of responsibilities in taking care of young children."

- Channel News Asia