Autistic child allegedly slapped, gagged at Da Nang special school

By Nguyen Dong   March 2, 2024 | 12:00 am PT
The police are investigating a Da Nang special school where a series of viral videos showed caretakers indulging in violence against children.

When police officers and personnel from the Son Tra District education department arrived on Friday morning, the facility’s owner had signboards removed and closed the three-story building.

It had had a board reading "Special education psychology research institute, Cau Vong branch, Son Tra, Da Nang." The center had taken in children with ADHD and other developmental issues for therapy.

The inspection came after a number of videos posted on the social media account of Tran Ngoc Gia Hy, 29, earlier that morning showed her daughter being ill-treated at the facility.

One clip from last Tuesday shows a caretaker pulling her daughter’s hair to make her lie down and take a nap.

When the child cries the caretaker uses a blanket to cover her mouth before going back to her phone, leaving her crying.

Another shows a caretaker holding a kid’s hand and using it to hit Hy’s daughter in the face, head and arms, while another caretaker cheers her on.

Video footage shows the abuse of a girl at a special education facility in Da Nang. Video edited by VnExpress/Anh Phu

Hy said her daughter is autistic and has signs of ADHD.

Over the past year she had been sending her to the Cau Vong facility, paying a monthly fee of VND6 million (US$243).

When her daughter began having bruises and she asked the center’s owner, only identified as Hau, about them, she would tell her that the girl fell down the stairs or friends hit her.

"I trusted her and let it go since I saw that my daughter had made progress. But three days ago [on Tuesday] my daughter returned home with a bruised face and the marks of an adult’s fingers showing, and our family suspected she was being abused."

Her family immediately demanded camera footage from the center and discovered what happened.

Footage from Wednesday, apparently after Hy made the complaint, shows Hau telling the caretakers to continue scolding the girl but not to touch her physically.

If the girl misbehaves, they should make her sit outside alone, she says.

"It will be a headache if the mother makes a big deal out of this."

Hy said that when the family spoke again with Hau on Thursday, she said the girl was punished because she was uncooperative, but that it was a "therapeutic exercise."

Hy then took her daughter out of the facility, complained to the police and planned to hire a lawyer.

The facility is not an approved special education facility, according to the district Department of Education and Training.

Private kindergartens and nurseries must be approved by local people’s committees, their owners must have at least graduated high school and caretakers need to have college degrees, among other requirements.

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