Case of child abuse at Ctrip day care center in Shanghai sparks outrage

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On Wednesday a case of child abuse at a day care center for employees of Ctrip, one of China’s most popular online travel agencies, aroused much coverage and heated debate.

On November 3, the parent of a child who frequents the Shanghai day care center found that their boy had his left ear bruised. The parent, surnamed Wang, was then able to check the surveillance footage and found a shocking level of child abuse. The Beijing News’ reporters have collected four surveillance video clips that show staff members mistreating several toddlers. In one of the videos, a female member of staff brutally throws a girl’s bag on the floor and pushes her so she falls and hits her head against a corner of a table. In another one, a member of staff forces several toddlers to eat something (later discovered to be wasabi) that causes them to cry loudly. On Wednesday afternoon, the CEO of Ctrip, Sun Jie, sent an internal email and admitted the company’s failures in supervision. On Wednesday evening, a person in charge within Ctrip told reporters that all of the four staff members involved have been fired and the company has established an emergency group to assist the police and parents with the investigation. Also, the company will provide compensation to the parents, providing two weeks of paid vacation and offering psychological therapy and medical assistance to the children as needed. The day care center closes down on November 9 and the senior HR director who was the representative supervisor of the center has resigned in order to assume responsibility.

The day care center was established in partnership with the Women’s Federation of Changning District in February 2016. It is located inside the headquarters of Ctrip and is intended to provide more convenience to its employees. As mentioned in Sun Jie’s email, Ctrip authorized a third party, the Department of Reader Services of Modern Family (现代家庭杂志社), to manage the day care center because they hoped to let the children enjoy more professional and qualified services. Reporters from The Beijing News have found that the Shanghai Women’s Federation holds 100% of the shares of Modern Family.

Other commentators, for instance the author of a piece published by the Wechat channel 思维补丁, have noted that as opposed to some “developed countries” where child abuse seriously violates the laws and may lead to imprisonment, there is currently no specific law on child abuse in China. As long as the children are not severely injured, the abuse will not lead to any criminal charges.