Police are investigating the mishandling of a child that allegedly happened at a childcare center.
A teacher at Sparkletots preschool at Block 19 Teck Whye Lane allegedly pressed her elbow on the back of an 18-month-old boy, incidentally witnessed by the boy’s mother, who has made a police report on the case.
The mother, using a nickname Mel Da, wrote on her Facebook account that she had pulled her son out of the preschool after a week.
Mel Da wrote, “I have withdrawn my 18-month-old son just a week after having first enrolled him with them. In this week alone, we found several bruises on my son's forehead, back and legs.”
“I did not think much of it at the start but grew concerned as he came back with a new bruise each day,” she said. She was worried and decided to stay behind on a particular day to try and get a look. She was shocked!
She saw her son, held by his ankles by the teacher, was struggling as he was pressed down by the teacher's elbow on his back. She wrote, “I knew how his bruises had come about. When the teacher saw me outside looking in she immediately let him go and passed my son to another teacher.”
She was furious and went in to see the principal, who apologised after watching CCTV footage and promised to take action and assured her that the teacher will not be handling her son.
The teacher also apologised the next day, but Mel Da withdrew her son after she found another bruise on his stomach.
Local newspaper Today reported on 16 February that the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which runs Sparkletots, said it takes a serious view of the incident. “We have conducted our investigation and reported this matter to the relevant authorities,” said a spokesperson responding to Today’s queries.
PCF is assisting the police and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in this matter. “In the meantime, we are continuing to engage the parent and will provide updates as the investigation progresses,” the spokesperson said, adding that the teacher, who is a qualified preschool educator, is currently not working at the PCF centre in question.
PCF said that the safety and well-being of children in its care are the top priorities, and the spokesperson stated, “Whilst we support our staff in their challenging job as educators, we also emphasise that we do not condone any breach of professional standards and will take the necessary actions of required.”
When TOC dropped down to the centre, the preschool was still operating as per normal. Parents who were there picking up their children, did not seem to be worried about the ongoing case with the school and was having normal conversations with the teachers at the centre. A quick peek at the children in classes also showed no signs of distress of the students, with many enjoying the session conducted by the teachers. Parents who were at the centre also chatted about the presence of media on Thursday.
A number of parents reacted to Mel Da post, SnowieJess Ng wrote, “My son used to be in Sparketot Serangoon.. I withdrew him after a few months... My son also always had bruises on him.. My boy is a speech slow kid.. His teacher once pushed him to my mil when she picked him from school and saw a few times they left him alone at a corner to cry or see outside window...”
Siti Aminah wrote her comment, “OMG Mel Da I had enrolled my child 5 years ago and my instinct was right. I withdraw my son also after 1 month of school.” She continued, “Everyday cried because he couldn’t talk yet at that time. Even passing by the block also he cried and paranoid to even be close to the school. I noticed that the school keep changing teacher and the principal is new & young. I'm glad that I made the decision to change to another school.”
Mel Da, replying to a netizen’s question wrote on 12 February, “Have already reported to the police and they came down yesterday to take statement. They will investigate and get back to me so right now i am on waiting mode.”
And another netizen, a student care teacher, Chan Yin Leng wrote, “Oh dear! Thanks for sharing! Justice will be done! Hope your son is better now. I was a student care teacher. I do not handle kids as young as yours but I always believe that as a teacher (regardless school teacher, childcare or student care), passion and values are important!”