BEIJING (AP) — Chinese police said Wednesday a teacher at a Beijing kindergarten pricked children with needles as punishment but an investigation found no evidence of sexual exploitation.
Chinese media reports about alleged abuses at the Xintiandi kindergarten have drawn nationwide anger over potential lapses in supervision in the booming private preschool industry. The school is run by Beijing-based RYB Education, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
RYB posted an apology on its website saying "when a needle pricks a child's body, it also pricks every one of our hearts." It said complaints from parents at other RYB kindergartens would be fully investigated and it would accept responsibility for harm to any of its students.
The police statement said initial results of an investigation showed that a 22-year-old teacher it identified only by her surname, Liu, had punished children who refused to sleep by pricking them with sewing needles.
Liu has been detained, police said in a statement posted late Tuesday on the official Beijing city police account on the Sina Weibo microblog platform.
Many parents had demanded that the school show them the surveillance footage. Police said the footage was damaged because a staffer responsible for surveillance frequently shut down the electricity after classes ended.
Police also said the sexual abuse allegations were made up by two women, one of whom has been detained. The women, who were identified only by their surnames, could not be reached for comment.
The allegations came weeks after reports of abuse at a Shanghai day care center where surveillance video uploaded by angry parents showed teachers slapping a crying girl, pushing a toddler to the ground and force-feeding students a substance later confirmed to be wasabi.
The State Council, China's Cabinet, last Friday ordered nationwide inspections of kindergartens to review teacher conduct, citing "recent incidents in many locations."