Kindergarten teacher’s child abuse photo album sparks public fury
A young female kindergarten teacher pulls a little boy off the floor by his years. She keeps smiling, while the boy are crying out loud, his ears twisted out of shape. This was the most circulated image on Chinese social media yesterday.
The very first person that shed light on the child abuse was a net user under the alias “Jiangjiang090080,” who uploaded the aforementioned photo onto Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, on the morning of October 24. This is obviously a new user. All of the handful of posts published under this account were about child abuse committed by the same kindergarten teacher. The user wrote under one photo, “Hope any news organization with a good conscience can go investigate it.”
Within hours, the ear-pulling photo was all over the place on Sina Weibo. Net users were so outraged by the scene that they spread the image around, vowing to ferret out the identity of the monster and bring her to justice.
What ensued was a new round of ‘Human Flesh Search’, a spontaneous effort made by Chinese Internet vigilantes to punish the morally wrong by exposing their identities and subjecting them to public shaming, using crowdsourced human intelligence.
Soon, the collective wisdom of online crowds has led to important findings: Her name is Yan Yanhong. She was born in 1992 and is now teaching at a private kindergarten in the city of Wenling in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. Netizens even made public her state ID number, her cell phone number, her QQ (a popular instant messaging tool in China) account, her home address and her educational background.
In her blog hosted by QQ, hundreds more troubling torture images can be found, in which she seals off a boy’s mouth with scotch tape, throws a boy into a trash bin, takes off a boy’s pants and exposes his genitals, makes a boy and a girl kiss one another… Under some of the photos, she writes, “Deserves it.” A few net users left comments and advised her to delete these photos, to which she replied, “Not a big deal.”
“I throw him in,” she wrote as the caption.
“Try to be disobedient!”
The boy is made to keep a kowtow position: kneeling and touching his forehead to the floor. “Try to be disobedient!”
“Aunt (referring to herself) makes them so.”
Empty bottles of Tsingtao Beer at the corner of the classroom. Was she even sober?
Yan Yanhong was fired by the kindergarten and arrested by the local police on charges of “making a public disturbance”on the same day. The cruelties she has inflicted on her students seem to come to an end, but the lessons on preventing child abuses that have percolated Chinese schools have just begun.
By some estimates, about 40 percent of Chinese children are victims of various forms of maltreatment. 4.4 percent of them are severely abused. More than half of boys and nearly one third of girls suffer from physical punishment. One third of Chinese children have been publicly humiliated. About 2 percent have been sexually abused.
An unscientific poll conducted by Sina Weibo right after the infamy of the villainous kindergarten teacher showed that of the 4,835 netizens that responded to the poll, 72.3 percent said they were “beaten by their teachers” at school.
Sina Weibo poll
Most children are not even aware that they have been abused. Parents, who are occupied with their own jobs and businesses, do not often communicate with their kids and are therefore uninformed about what happens at school. There is no governmental child-protection services or social groups that step in to stop child abuses.
Moreover, there are two widespread notions in China that have impeded efforts to fight child abuse: one, “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” that children can be and must be physically punished if they are expected to behave. Two, don’t meddle with what’s under another’s roof; mind your own business, even if you see bruises on the body of a boy at your son’s class.
And the fact that Yan Yanhong was charged with “making a public disturbance” instead of violation of any child-protection law is a wake-up call for China. The local police say that they have come up with such an accusation because they are left with no other choice. There is no such crime as “child abuse” in China. The crime of “abuse” is defined to be concerning members of the same family. “Intentional injury” is applicable only when some degree of physical injury has been inflicted, which in Yan’s cases has not.
What probably frightens Chinese netizens most is the twisted mentality of teachers and caregivers like Yan who seek pleasure in torturing the weak and the vulnerable even though they themselves used to be a victim. “I simply thought this was fun,” Yan talked to a reporter after she was found out. If the abused, after growing up and getting over the pains they received as a child, become abusers and pass down the tradition, thinking that it is a rite of passage and a chance to take it out, it will probably take at least a generation to clean it up.