Feeding toddlers wasabi as punishment at daycare center

Society & Culture

A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for November 9, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

“Employees of Ctrip worked hard at the office, hoping to grant their offspring a bright future, while their kids were beaten and fed wasabi at the daycare center inside the company. How ironic it is.”

“The staff members, Ctrip, and the Women’s Federation. None of them can run away from their responsibilities.”

From Weibo (in Chinese)

A local daycare center in Shanghai is under fire after two shocking videos of toddlers being physically abused by staff members at the facility went viral across social media platforms in China this week. In one clip captured by surveillance cameras on November 1, a woman threw a little girl’s backpack on the floor and pushed her away, causing the toddler’s head to hit the corner of a table. Another piece of footage dated November 3 shows a boy crying after being forced to eat something that the teacher later confessed to be wasabi.

Sixth Tone reports that the nursery is affiliated with Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, and is located inside its headquarters in Shanghai, accepting employees’ children aged 18 months to three years. According to (in Chinese) Vista, Ctrip initially wanted to operate the nursery itself, but after a series of setbacks in the process of registration, it decided to partner with Modern Family, a magazine owned by the Women’s Federation of Changning District in Shanghai. The daycare center first opened its doors in February 2016, but the local education authorities ordered it to close because it did not meet standards. But after two months’ suspension, the facility was back in operation without being properly registered. There is wide speculation that the sudden comeback was due to some administrative help from the Women’s Federation.

After the teachers’ abusive behavior was exposed, Ctrip apologized, fired the staff involved in the case, and shut down the nursery. Local police were also called to carry out an investigation. However, these measures did not stop an outpouring of anger from the parents. In an “apology meeting” organized by Ctrip on November 7, a female teacher cried and kneeled on stage (in Chinese) while delivering an apology for her wrongdoings. The furious parents, with no mercy for her, still tried to beat her up before she was pulled away by some security guards.

On November 8, the Women’s Federation released an announcement, saying that it “strongly condemns” the teachers who misbehaved and would look into Modern Family magazine seriously. However, the unapologetic attitude throughout the statement further ignited fury among the public. “You still think you have the authority to condemn someone else? You are the one who should be investigated seriously,” wrote (in Chinese) one angry commenter.