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Infant-care teacher jailed 10 months for 'sustained and persistent' abuse of 1-year-old boy

SINGAPORE — An infant-care teacher at a preschool who rained several blows on a one-year-old toddler under her care, leaving extensive bruising on his back, was jailed for 10 months on Thursday (March 17).

A toddler cried throughout the time that he was abused by an infant-care teacher at a preschool, but she ignored this.
A toddler cried throughout the time that he was abused by an infant-care teacher at a preschool, but she ignored this.
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  • A preschool teacher hit a toddler many times, smothered him with a cushion, held him up in the air and shook him
  • She tried to come up with reasons to the boy’s mother about how his skin may be sensitive when a bruise appeared
  • The sentencing judge told the court that she inflicted the abuse in a "sustained and persistent manner"

SINGAPORE — An infant-care teacher at a preschool who rained several blows on a one-year-old toddler under her care, leaving extensive bruising on his back, was jailed for 10 months on Thursday (March 17).

The 54-year-old woman appeared in court in a wheelchair, just as she did when she pleaded guilty last month to one count of ill-treating a child. The woman, who recently had knee replacement surgery, began serving the jail term immediately.

District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan considered another similar charge for sentencing, in relation to the teacher flicking the boy's ear and roughly rubbing his face two weeks before the main offence.

She cannot be named due to a court order to protect the boy’s identity.

In his sentencing remarks on Thursday, District Judge Shaiffudin said that the teacher had inflicted the abuse in a “sustained and persistent manner”. This was more aggravating than previous cases — raised as possible sentencing precedents — that involved short and singular instances of abuse.

A clear signal must be sent to all parents and caregivers that violence would not be tolerated and would be met with the full force of the law.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan

“The fact that it was prolonged means the victim was subjected to a greater degree of trauma and suffering, and this increases the severity of her actions,” the judge added.

In relation to her recent knee replacement surgery, District Judge Shaiffudin also said he found “no cogent evidence” that imprisonment would disproportionately affect her in comparison to a healthy offender.

He said: “For cases involving violence against children, deterrence and retribution are the key sentencing considerations.

“A clear signal must be sent to all parents and caregivers that violence would not be tolerated and would be met with the full force of the law.”

HIT BABY, SHOOK HIM

The court previously heard that the teacher was entrusted with the care of children aged between two and 18 months.

She struck the boy on the afternoon of Dec 24 in 2019 while in the preschool located in the northern region of Singapore. This included:

  • Hitting him on the back with one hand at least 14 times
  • Hitting him on the back with both hands at least eight times
  • Adjusting his legs in a rough manner
  • Covering his head with a pillow at least once
  • Pressing his face into a cushion by pushing his head down
  • Shaking him by the arms roughly before slamming him to the ground face-up
  • Slapping his chest and cheek multiple times

He cried throughout the ordeal but she ignored this.

Closed-circuit television footage of the abuse was played in court, which showed her leaving the boy lying on the ground with his head under a cushion for about half a minute. Other toddlers were also present.

In the immediate aftermath, she observed a big red patch was visibly forming on the boy’s back. She then saw an hour later that it was turning blue.

Realising that the boy’s mother would surely notice the injuries, she “pre-emptively sought to divert” the other woman’s suspicions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Gerald Tan told the court.

She then asked the mother over WhatsApp text messages if the boy had “very sensitive skin”, apologised for patting him to sleep a little too hard and said that his skin looked like it was “having an outbreak”.

By doing this, she tried to characterise the injuries as having arisen from the boy’s purported skin sensitivity, as well as accidental force on her part.

The boy's mother took him to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital later that evening, where he was found to have sustained a bruise over his back measuring about 13cm by 8cm.

His parents then viewed closed-circuit television recordings of her abusive acts and filed a police report on Dec 31, 2019.

The preschool has since paid for the boy's hospital visit fees of about S$140.

For ill-treatment of a child under the Children and Young Persons Act, the teacher could have been jailed for up to four years or fined up to S$4,000, or punished with both.

Related topics

court crime child abuse abuse infant care teacher

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