|Chinese parents are seen in the Ctrip's in-house day care center where the suspects charged with child abuse in Shanghai, China, on Nov 8, 2017. [Photo/IC]|
Eight people convicted of child abuse at a Shanghai day care center owned by one of China's leading travel service companies, Ctrip, were sentenced to up to a year and a half in prison by the Changning District People's Court of Shanghai on Tuesday.
Zheng Yan, who was in charge of the center, received the most severe sentence. The other seven received sentences of one year to one year and two months.
Five of the accused were put on probation, during which time they are prohibited from providing care to others. Zheng Yan, along with Liang Shuo and Tang Ying, were barred from caregiving for five years after serving the full term.
Testimony was given during the trial that the workers had applied spicy mustard to the children's mouths and hands as a means of punishment at the day care center in August 2017. Evidence also showed that they pushed and dragged the children, aged 18 months to 3 years old.
Zheng, the center's head, did not stop such behavior. Instead, she instructed the staff to avoid the center's video monitoring system when they imposed such "discipline".
The court said that children need special protection and care, and the workers were punished for their unprofessional and immoral conduct.
Lighter punishments were given to two staff members who turned themselves in and to six others who confessed to the crimes.
Ctrip established the center in 2016 to help employees solve baby-sitting problems for children under 3 years old, the minimum age for public kindergartens. It was not run by Ctrip directly but by a third-party organization.
In early November last year, parents suspicious of child abuse demanded footage from surveillance cameras at the center. The videos soon went viral online as that showed staff members feeding mustard to children and pushing them around.
The case provoked public anger and discussion, attracting more than 18.7 million netizens in an online discussion.
All child care work at the center has been suspended.