The world can be a scary place for children. However, there are some places we automatically assume to be safe for our little ones, such as preschools.
Normally, we wholeheartedly trust these institutions to teach and nurture our children. But a recent incident in Malaysia cautions us never to let our guard down when it comes to our kids’ safety.
Preschool Abuse: Is It Getting More Common?
This particular case of preschooler abuse was brought to light after a horrifying video went viral. In it, two teachers of a privately-run preschool in Malacca – aged 21 and 40 years old – are seen slapping and hitting the innocent children they were supposed to care for.
As you can see in the video below, one of the teachers is seen slapping a little boy. She then pushes him off the chair he was sitting on. After that, she continues slapping another boy (while the other one is still crying on the floor).
The other teacher appeared to separate a boy and girl, but later ended up carrying the girl and putting her on a boy who was lying down.
According to Central Melaka district police chief, Assistant Commissioner Afzanizar Ahmad, this jaw-dropping case happened almost two weeks ago, on July 30. Fortunately, the incident was captured on the preschool’s surveillance camera.
After the centre’s owner lodged a police report, police arrived on the scene and arrested both women on Saturday, 11 August.
Thankfully, the children were reported to be physically unhurt from the incident.
On August 13, officers from the Melaka government and welfare department visited the pre-school. Here, Ms Lin explains that the licenses of both teachers have been revoked. | Image Source: Screenshot from The Star Online
What to Look for in a Preschool Checklist: Hidden Signs of a Bad Preschool
We assume all preschools are safe places for our little ones. And yes, most of them are. However, it’s also important for you to be aware of the not-so-obvious signs of a bad preschool.
Here’s a “What to look for in a preschool checklist” we compiled to help you make the best decisions for your little tot.
A good preschool should be able to maintain a high level of cleanliness. You should see very little to no dust on items, and no food on the floor. Toys should look usable and new. A good preschool will also have sterilisation procedures and rules to follow if children get sick, such as having a quarantine area.
Having a clean environment is critical in preventing serious illnesses from spreading. If your preschool appears unhygienic, it could be a sign that the childcare centre isn’t adhering to the guidelines set by the Ministry of Health.
Good schools are transparent with parents. They will generally have good practices, such as sending notes with the child when they go home, emailing, texting or calling you back after 24 hours, while also giving an opportunity for you to talk with your child’s teacher.
If you have issues meeting up with a teacher or have to go through a lot of hassle just to get in touch with your child’s teachers, it’s probably a red flag that this school isn’t good enough.
3. Qualified, Cheerful Staff
A good preschool will have clear roles for different people. If it seems like your child’s teacher is doing many different jobs, it could be a sign that your preschool lacks manpower. This is a bad sign because exhausted people can’t function. Not only will they perform poorly, but it is also likely that they may mistreat your children.
A good preschool should have teachers who care for their students. This means that they can cultivate enthusiasm in their students when teaching, and let the students steer their learning. A preschool teacher handing down cold stares or snapping at your children should signal alarm bells in your head.
4. Lack of Curriculum and Rules
A preschool without clear guidelines on what they’re teaching is another warning sign that they’re not sure what they’re doing. Furthermore, although preschools are meant to be fun, your kids should learn how to follow rules. If it seems like there is no discipline there, it may be best to not send your children to that preschool.
Your teachers should also read aloud to students and provide opportunities for your children to discuss, talk and listen. In addition, your children should also allow kids to practice social skills, too. These include skills like group cooperation, leadership, compromise, negotiation and conflict resolution.
5. A Good Environment
A good preschool will also have a good setup – that means having adequate equipment for your child to play with. In particular, playground equipment should spark social development, be safe, and allow for creative play. In addition, there should be no more than 15 children per teacher.
Are there dangerous substances like toxic chemicals or exposed live wires around? What about (sharp, pointy, or dangerous) toys that are inappropriate for preschoolers? Preschools should have these well out of children’s reach.
Be on the lookout for a properly marked fire exit and an emergency kit. Preschools should also have a backup plan, safety instructions and who to contact if an emergency happens.
7. Other People’s Opinions
If you can’t visit the preschool on your own, you can still research about the school’s reputation. Ask other parents about the preschool and listen to what they say. You can also check forums or blogs.
However, the best person to ask is your child. Does she like it there? Does she still cry after you’ve fetched her? If it seems to be more than just separation anxiety, then that is probably a red flag to not send her there. This is especially true if she refuses to attend school every day.
Warning: Video contains distressing content
References: Straits Times, New Straits Times, Channel News Asia, The Star Online,
Also read: Signs of a Bad Childcare centre
Emergence of child abuse video stresses importance of kindergarten safety
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