S'pore boy, 3, allegedly abused, shouted at & locked in dark room, 3 preschool teachers suspended, police report lodged

The child was allegedly abused by more than one teacher.

Belmont Lay | February 29, 2024, 10:36 AM



A three-year-old boy attending a preschool in the North-East of Singapore was allegedly abused by more than one teacher. A police report has been filed by the child's parent.

The child was allegedly locked in a dark room in the school, and hit and pinched on more than one occasion by the preschool’s teachers, a parent told The Straits Times.

Screenshots of the mother's social media posts addressing the alleged abuse were seen by Mothership.

In one of the posts, the mother accused the preschool teachers of pulling children's hair, locking them in a dark room, slapping their hands and legs, threatening to beat them if they told their parents about it, telling children about killing and cutting hands off, as well as pinching the children when they played with water.

The school and parent cannot be named as it could lead to the identification of the alleged victims, which is prohibited under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Fearful of going to school

ST reported that the mother noticed in January 2024 that her child was becoming more fearful of going to school, had more frequent meltdowns, and was showing violent behaviour, such as pinching and “chopping” others.

The mother who lodged the report said her child has been attending the preschool for more than a year.

The mother said her son told her on Feb. 22 night that he was punished by being locked in a dark room for playing with water.

The mother reported the incident to the school on Friday.

A few nights later, the child said he was pinched by the same teachers that day as well.

On Feb. 26, the school’s management showed the mother surveillance footage of her son being locked in a dark room by teachers on Feb. 21, ST reported.

The mother also told ST that the footage showed two teachers opening the door and taking turns to shout at her son.

ST reported that another four-year-old boy at the same preschool claimed to his parents to have been abused.

3 teachers suspended

According to screenshots of an e-mail circular sent to parents on Feb. 26, seen by Mothership, the preschool’s director said the three teachers involved in the incident have been suspended to “ensure the integrity of the investigation process and to prevent further occurrences”.

The school was alerted to a recent case of “child mismanagement”, and was “taking actions to address this matter”, she wrote.

She added that closed-circuit television cameras were installed in September 2023.

The school has reported the incident to the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the director added.

In response to Mothership's queries, ECDA said a parent reported the alleged incidents at the pre-school to the agency on Feb. 26.

"The preschool also reported the incident to ECDA. We have commenced investigations, which include an unannounced visit to the preschool, review of CCTV footages, interviews and verification of records," ECDA added.

"To safeguard children’s safety, ECDA will not allow the staff to work elsewhere in the preschool sector while investigations are ongoing," ECDA said with regards to the three staff who have been suspended by the pre-school.

The rest of the ECDA statement read:

ECDA has instructed the preschool operator to closely monitor the children and check their well-being, as well as provide close supervision and guidance to its staff.

The case is still undergoing investigation by both ECDA and the police.

ECDA will take firm action against preschool educators and operators when they are found guilty of not fulfilling their duty of care to the children under their charge.

For educators, ECDA will issue warnings to those who use inappropriate child management practices.

For serious cases where there appears to be clear intent to harm the child, the case will be referred to the police for criminal investigation.

Individuals who are found to have committed serious acts of child mismanagement will be barred from working in the preschool sector.

Parents who suspect that their child has been subject to child mismanagement should report the matter to ECDA or the Police so that investigations can be carried out and due process be taken.

Mothership has also reached out to the parent of the boy who was allegedly abused.

Top photo for illustration purposes only, via Unsplash