Two kindergarten teachers suspected of mistreating pupils have been detained by local police in the city of Wenling, East China's Zhejiang Province Thursday, according to the official Sina Weibo account of the city's public security bureau.
A photo posted online Wednesday by a Weibo user and parent named "Jiangjiang" shows a screaming, bawling boy being lifted off the ground by a smiling teacher pulling on his ears.
The photo, which was taken about one month ago, has triggered public outrage.
Police in Wenling said Yan Yanhong, the 21-year-old teacher, had been detained for provocative and disturbing behavior. The other teacher who took the photo, surnamed Tong, was given a 7-day administrative detention.
Yan's personal blog contained other photos showing her mistreating children, including taping a child's mouth shut, putting pupils in trash bins, striping off their pants while dancing and forcing the children to kiss each other.
Yan, who had been working for the kindergarten for two years, told the local Wenling Daily that she was just playing with the children.
"I thought it was fun, so I pulled his ears and asked my coworker to take a photo. The 5-year-old boy was quite naughty and after the ear-pulling he didn't make any mistakes the rest of the day," Yan said.
Tong said she tried to stop Yan and advised that it would cause trouble if the photo was posted online. "I never expected it would actually come true," said Tong.
The parent also uploaded the records of an online chat she had with Yan, in which Yan said she got the job through her connections and did not have a teacher certificate, which was later confirmed by the local education bureau.
"Many kindergartens are short of teachers so the recruitment standard has to be lowered," said a local education official surnamed Wang.
The bureau also said that Yan was dismissed and the kindergarten was rated as failure in its annual evaluation.
"The lack of preschool education resources is the root of child abuse and the low recruitment requirements," said Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21 Century Education Institute, adding that qualified preschool teachers can only meet 60 percent of the demand in China.
"Perhaps kindergartens should let parents be involved in the classroom to ensure better supervision," Zeng Fanlin, associate professor of child psychology at the Shanghai-based East China Normal University, adding that Yan was treated with leniency and should have been charged with child abuse.
The police Weibo posting pointed out that China does not have a law to specifically deal with child abuse by someone outside the child's family. This is why Yan was not severely punished, suggested the bureau's Weibo.