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Infantcare teacher admits physically abusing one-year-old

SINGAPORE (CNA) – An infantcare teacher abused a one-year-old boy by hitting him, covering his head with a pillow, slamming him to the ground and slapping his face repeatedly.

The boy cried throughout the ordeal and bruises could be seen on him afterwards, which prompted his mother to call the police.

The 55-year-old offender, who cannot be named as it might identify the victim, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of ill-treating a child, with a second similar charge of similarly abusing him earlier that month taken into consideration.

The court heard that the offender was entrusted with the care of young children aged between two and 18 months old as part of her job. She was tasked with feeding them, changing their diapers, ensuring their general wellbeing and leading them in educational activities.

The victim was about a year old when the offender abused him on December 24, 2019. Between 12.30pm and 1pm, the teacher physically abused him in multiple ways that were caught on video footage.

She hit him with one hand on his back at least 14 times, with both her hands at least eight times and adjusted his legs roughly at least twice.

She also covered his head with a pillow and slammed his face down onto a cushion by pushing his head down forcefully.

Other acts include shaking the boy roughly by his arms before slamming him to the ground in a supine position, the court heard, and slapping his cheek seven times in a row.

The boy experienced pain and cried throughout the ordeal, said the prosecutor. However, the offender ignored his cries.

She then realised that a big red patch was forming on the child’s back, and noticed an hour later that the red patch was turning blue.

Realising that the victim’s mother would notice the injury, the teacher tried to divert her suspicions by texting her to ask if the boy had “very sensitive skin”. She apologised for patting the boy to sleep “a bit hard” and claimed his skin appeared to be “having an outbreak”.

The victim’s mother took him to the hospital in the wee hours of the next day. There was a 13cm by 8cm large bruise over his back that was diagnosed as an “alleged non-accidental injury”.

The preschool paid for the hospital visit, which cost SGD139.10, and the victim’s mother lodged a police report a few days later after viewing CCTV recordings of the abuse with her husband.

The prosecutor sought a year’s jail, while defence lawyer Azri Imran Tan of IRB Law sought half that term. Tan said “there is no good explanation” for what his client did, and “she does not intend to proffer one as she finds her own actions inexplicable”. He said her actions were “an aberration, and completely out of character”, adding that his client “cares deeply for all the children she has worked with… and prides herself on having a good relationship with the children under her care, as well as their parents”.

She wrote a letter of apology to the court and hoped that the victim and his family can forgive her, said the lawyer. He said his client has no previous convictions, and has a strong record as a preschool educator. She loves children and many of her past students and their parents continue to recognise her and stay in contact with her, he said.

The counsel said his client will be punished “not only by imprisonment” but by “guilt, ignominy, and shame for her actions”.

“In addition, given her passion for teaching and children, it will be a bitter pill for (her) to swallow insofar as she is unlikely to ever be able to teach pre-school children again, following this conviction,” he said.

She will return to court in March for sentencing.


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