A woman in Singapore, Mirielle Innam, has claimed that her 16-month-old daughter was abused by two infant care teachers in PCF Sparkletots.
Would not stop crying
According to her Facebook post on Jan. 12, the abuse occurred in October 2020.
Mirielle said that she had picked her daughter up from school on Oct. 8 as she normally did.
However, the toddler would not stop crying that day and Mirielle found something amiss.
Mirielle contacted her daughter's teacher, but was told that nothing happened.
The teacher, however, said that Mirielle "can claim" if she were to bring her daughter to a hospital or a doctor.
Mirielle subsequently went to the National University Hospital (NUH) and found out that her daughter's left elbow was dislocated.
Mirielle later uploaded two videos onto her Facebook page, showing the severity of her daughter's injury.
The toddler could not move her hand and would start crying when Mirielle tried to lift it up.
Lodged police report, investigations ongoing
Speaking to Mothership, Mirielle said that after she discovered her daughter's injury, she went down to the preschool and requested to view CCTV footage.
"That was when we confirmed our worse nightmare," she said.
The CCTV footage, according to Mirielle, revealed an act of alleged "physical abuse" towards her daughter.
She lodged a police report on Oct. 14, 2020.
In response to Mothership's queries, the police confirmed that a report was lodged in October 2020 and investigations have commenced following the report.
The police said that it has also been updating the victim's parents on the progress of the investigation, with the most recent update in December 2020.
Police investigations are ongoing.
Suspended for a week
Mirielle confirmed with Mothership that the abuse took place in PCF Sparkletots at Block 649 Woodlands Ring Road, which her daughter has been attending since August 2019.
The teachers who were responsible for the alleged abuse are both women in their 40s, according to Mirielle.
Mirielle also told Mothership that the two teachers were suspended for one week, and sent to counselling.
However, they have been re-deployed to other PCF centres.
Authorities "went all silent"
In her Facebook post, Mirielle had also claimed that PCF Sparkletots and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) "went all silent" when she reported the matter to them.
She wrote in her post:
"Hence, we have decided to speak up and seek justice for our daughter. Initially we thought of filling for a lawsuit, we have met up with multiple lawyers and their fees are beyond our affordability. After much consideration, we feel going public is the right option for us. If you think child abuse does not happen in SG childcare, think again."
You can view her full Facebook post here:
In response to queries from Mothership, an ECDA spokesperson said that the agency is aware of the case after the parent of the child informed them in October 2020.
ECDA said that it followed up with the parent on Oct. 12 and informed her that an investigation would be conducted.
"Our investigation took into account the information provided by the parent to ECDA, as well as our unannounced visit to the centre and assessment of the preschool’s physical environment and standard operating procedures, CCTV footage and interviews with relevant staff," said ECDA.
Its investigations eventually found that the child's injury on Oct. 8, 2020 was "likely caused by a member of the preschool staff, who had pulled the child by her hand into a standing position when waking her up from her nap".
"The safety and well-being of children in preschools is of utmost importance. The Early Childhood Development Agency takes a serious view towards any case of child mismanagement.
ECDA follows up on every alleged child mismanagement incident. Investigations into such allegations generally require time as they involve unannounced visits to the centre, interviews with staff, review of CCTV footage and of the preschool’s processes and records, assessment of the investigation findings and actions to be taken, if necessary.
We had assessed that the staff's overall actions were inappropriate but not ill-intended to harm the child. In addition, we found that a second member of the staff had handled the child in an inappropriate manner to prepare the child for her milk feed but this did not cause the child’s injury. In both instances, we found the actions by the two staff to be inappropriate but not intended to cause harm to the child.
Actions will be taken if findings support the allegation. Preschool operators are also reminded through regular briefings and circulars to ensure vigilant supervision of children, and to provide guidance and support to teachers on classroom management.
ECDA has taken action against the preschool licensee and both staff who were involved. In accordance with our regulatory framework, this took into consideration the facts and circumstances of the case including whether there was intent and the nature of the injury.
In addition, we have tightened monitoring of the preschool and strongly advised the preschool to provide closer supervision to their staff on appropriate and safe practices when carrying or managing children. We have also strongly advised the preschool to provide guidance and support to the staff in classroom management."
According to ECDA, the parent was informed of the investigation outcome on Dec. 14, 2020.
The parent has also since raised further concerns regarding PCF Sparkletots' principals arising from the incident.
ECDA said that it is looking further into these additional concerns raised.
"We are very sorry, and deeply regret this"
Responding to queries from Mothership, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of PCF, Tan Lee Jee, said that PCF is aware of the incident and takes it very seriously.
She added that PCF is apologetic and remorseful about the case of "inappropriate handling".
Here's her full statement:
"The safety of all children in our centres is our top priority.
An internal investigation by PCF and an independent investigation by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) were conducted.
These investigations concluded that the child had likely sustained her injury, (a pulled elbow) due to inappropriate handling by the infant educator.
We are very sorry, and deeply regret this.
The educators involved are also deeply apologetic.
ECDA has penalised PCF, and the two employees involved were suspended. They are now undergoing a fundamental review to assess their suitability to work in this field. Further disciplinary action may be taken against them if they fail to meet the expected standards.
The parents have decided that their child should remain in the same centre with us. We thank them for their trust and will continue to support the child in her learning and development.
The parents of the child have filed a police report and we will fully cooperate with the authorities on the investigations."
Top images from Mirielle Innam/FB.