Two babysitters face jail time for abusing 20 children at Saigon kindergarten

By Quoc Thang   February 27, 2018 | 07:09 pm PT
Video footage that went viral last November shows the women beating the children at a daycare center.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City have completed an investigation and are pressing charges against two women accused of abusing children at a private kindergarten.

Owner Pham Thi My Linh, 44, and her employee Nguyen Thi Dao, 24, face 1-3 years in prison if found guilty.

Pham Thi My Linh at the police station. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang.

Pham Thi My Linh at the police station. Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Thang.

According to the investigation, Linh is a trained preschool educator and obtained a license to open Mam Xanh (Green Buds) Daycare Center in District 12 in October 2016. Between the center's opening and its closure last November, Linh and her untrained employees Dao and Quynh, 18, took care of about 30 children aged between three and five years old, whose parents mostly work in factories in the area.

However, Linh and Dao regularly slapped, kicked, punched and beat the children with anything close to hand, including a knife, and forced them to put stacks of plastic stools on their heads.

More than 20 children at the kindergarten received medical examinations as part of the investigation. While one of them was diagnosed with an intellectual disability, doctors found no evidence that it was linked to the abuse.

Investigators concluded that Linh and Dao's actions merited strict punishment as they had affected the health of multiple children. Quynh's mistreatment of the children was not severe enough to merit a criminal charge, so she has been placed under house arrest.

Parents of the abused children have also demanded total compensation of over VND800 million ($35,000) from the babysitters, which the accused say they are incapable of paying.

The abuse came to light last November when Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper published a video showing footage of the beatings, which quickly went viral online. Police subsequently arrested Linh and shut down her daycare center, while Dao and Quynh were placed under house arrest.

Child abuse at nurseries is not uncommon in Vietnam, but criminal charges are rarely brought against the culprits.

Early last year, two teachers in Hanoi were fined VND2.5 million ($110) each after an online video showed them beating crying children with various objects, including a slipper.

In a rare case, a court in the southern province of Kien Giang sentenced two babysitters to three years in jail in January 2014 for torturing children at an unlicensed private nursery.

Another babysitter in Saigon received an 18-year sentence the same year for killing a baby after she couldn’t stop him from crying. She escaped the death sentence because she was under 18 at the time of the fatal incident.

According to government data, more than 2,000 children in Vietnam suffer serious abuse that requires special help and intervention every year.

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