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The Straits Times
Nov 21, 2022
A pre-school teacher tasked with taking care of children with special needs physically abused a boy and then lied when asked about scratch marks on his neck.
On Monday, the 51-year-old woman pleaded guilty to one charge of ill-treating the four-year-old.
Another charge of using criminal force on the child will be taken into consideration for sentencing.
To protect the victim’s identity, she cannot be identified.
The woman started working at the school in 2013, teaching Mandarin. Her job scope included bathing and feeding the children as well as assisting them in outdoor play.
She began teaching the boy in 2020. She was aware that the boy, now six, was found to have delayed speech development and assessed in 2017 to likely have autism.
At about 12.30pm on Dec 2, 2020, she escorted the pre-schoolers to a room for their nap time. While her colleague attended to another pre-schooler with special needs, she sat next to the boy to try to get him to sleep.
But she was unable to do so, and as she was tired and had not eaten lunch, she became frustrated.
At about 12.35pm, she pulled the boy up by the shoulders and pushed him forward, causing him to roll on the floor and out of his sleeping mat. He sat up, and she grabbed him by his left arm and dragged him across the floor, before pulling his ears and scratching his neck. He covered both his ears in pain.
About three minutes later, she again pulled his ear with such downward force that it made him cower in pain. But she pushed his head up before grabbing him by both his arms and turned him towards her. She again pulled his ears.
At 12.52pm, she pulled the boy towards her by the back of his T-shirt. When he tried to get away, she again pulled him by his T-shirt.
About two minutes later, she pushed him from the back, causing him to fall forward, and then pulled him towards her again.
The other teacher heard the boy crying during the incident, which was captured by a video camera in the room.
When a maid came to pick the boy up at about 4.30pm, the accused lied that she had accidentally scratched his neck when he struggled while she was trying to pat him to sleep.
The mother lodged a complaint with the pre-school after she noticed multiple scratches on her son’s neck.
Later that same day, the teacher lied to the principal about the incident, but was shown footage from the video camera. The next day, the principal told the mother that the teacher had admitted to rough handling the boy.
The victim was taken to hospital for medical attention on Dec 4 and a police report was made by his mother on Dec 5. The teacher was fired on Dec 4, and the boy’s medical bills were taken care of by the pre-school.
The teacher was arrested on July 21, 2022. She is out on $10,000 bail and expected to be back in court for mitigation and sentencing on Jan 11.
For ill-treating the child, she may be jailed for up to eight years and fined up to $8,000.