China / Hot Issues

Welfare house chief suspended over scandal

By Shi Yingying in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2012-07-03 07:29

The president of Wenzhou's Cangnan County Social Welfare Institute has been suspended after photos of two orphaned children bound by chains were exposed by the media.

Huang Yitao, head of the welfare house, admitted the children were neglected after the photos sparked public outrage, according to the local civil affairs bureau.

The photos were taken by a volunteer who visited the welfare house during the Duanwu Festival from June 22 to 24. They show Guo Qun, 2, and Guo Cheng, 8, tethered to the back of a wooden chair.

The photos were taken while the boys were eating. Zhejiang's local media Modern Gold News interviewed a staff member at the welfare house who admitted that they often tied up children. "The last time was on June 29. It was raining outside, but Guo Qun and Guo Cheng kept running outside to play. Their clothing got wet three times. We had to lock them up so that they wouldn't go out again," the staff member was quoted as saying.

Staff members at the welfare house were not punished, according to Wu Jiaxing of Cangnan's civil affairs bureau. "Children (of the welfare house) are only restrained when they have a twitch or a propensity for violence. They're free the rest of time," Wu said.

Both of the boys were born with health problems. Guo Qun suffers from congenital deafmutism and epilepsy, and Guo Cheng has schizophrenia and is believed to be capable of violence.

According to Wu, the welfare house has 21 orphans, and 19 of them were born with health problems. Four caretakers are responsible for the children, and their average age is around 60. All the workers are retired local women.

The welfare house has promised to transfer all of its children to another local institute within a week.

Du Wei, founder of Shanghai's NGO Lupin Foster Home where sick orphans are admitted and transferred to local hospitals for operations, said there weren't enough staff at the welfare house to supervise the children.

Du, who has visited many welfare houses across China, said she has seen similar cases of neglect.

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