‘Monster nanny’ angers the nation

January 15, 2015

Video captures daycare center worker forcefully striking 4-year-old

By Kim Rahn

A video of a daycare center worker manhandling a four-year-old girl has riveted the nation.

This is another case in a string of revelations involving pre-school children left under the care of workers who turn into abusive “monster nannies,” as mothers call them.

This case in Songdo, Incheon, came to light after the girl’s mother reported it to police. In the surveillance camera recording of the center on Jan. 8, the female employee, surnamed Yang, 33, was caught violently striking the child with her fist.

The disclosure of the video sparked nationwide outrage almost instantly.

The daycare employee surnamed Yang admitted to hitting the child during an interview. (Korea Times file)

The daycare employee surnamed Yang admitted to hitting the child during an interview. (Korea Times file)

Parents now believe this may not have been the first time that Yang was violent, as children have often said they don’t want to go to the daycare center or that they were scared of Yang, calling her “monster teacher.”

“In the recording, when Yang is scolding and beating the girl, other children come near the table quietly and kneel there even though no one tells them to do so. It shows such harsh treatment has been repeated and has scared them,” a mother of a child attending the center wrote on a Songdo parents’ online community.

Another mother said in a radio interview that the children have now begun to testify about Yang’s beating. “But they say, ‘Mom, please don’t tell the teacher that I told you about the hitting.’ According to some children, Yang told them not to tell their parents, saying, ‘I’m stronger than your father.’”

The mother said that the director of the center said she did not know about the violence but the parents care not convinced.

“We think she and other staff were aware of the beating because children’s testimonies show such violence was frequent,” she said.

Members of the online community have been unforgiving. They’ve started a rally near the daycare center on Thursday, saying they would continue it until the government comes up with effective policy to prevent abuse at daycare centers.

They’ve also been posting Yang’s and photo and personal information, including her home address and phone number, online.

During police questioning Monday, Yang admitted to the beating but said it was for discipline. Police will seek an arrest warrant for Yang.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare suspended the daycare center’s operations and Yang’s license. It plans to close the center and file a complaint against the director if the police investigation finds additional cases of abuse.

It also plans to implement measures to prevent such abuse at daycare centers, such as strengthening qualifications and training for staff, reducing their work burden, and making surveillance camera installation obligatory.

It was also found that the daycare center obtained a high score in the government’s regular assessment in June, getting 95.3 out of 100. The Korea Childcare Promotion Institute conducted the evaluation on behalf of the ministry, but critics say the budget and the number of staff there is too small to properly assess nearly 44,000 daycare centers nationwide, with each staff member having to inspect 196 facilities.