The Chinese government has ordered local media to halt coverage of a child abuse scandal at a high-end kindergarten in Beijing, according to a leaked order.
“Don’t report or comment on the matter of the Red Yellow Blue New World Kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang District,” said the November 24 order that was leaked to and published on China Digital Times.
Chinese media had earlier been reporting for two days on claims made by distressed parents in China’s capital who said their children had been sexually abused, spiked with needles, and forced to take unknown pills.
The youngest victims are only 3 years old.
— Michael Ron Bowling (@mrbcyber) November 25, 2017
As reporting stopped, many of earlier reports were also taken offline or had their comment sections disabled.
The case has stirred widespread outrage across a Chinese population already upset by a string of child abuse scandals.
“Rumors of military involvement — the school is adjacent to a base, and its director is married to a former military official — have further agitated the public,” reported China Digital Times. Military officials were forced to deny such rumors.
How Chinese politics works: A month after the 19th Party Congress, the PLA feels obliged to come forward and deny that its officers were members of a rumored predatory sex-ring in a Beijing kindergarten: https://t.co/LzHcGitKPs
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) November 24, 2017
The scandal was also censored on social media where public indignation over the scandal had been acute.
“The hashtag ‘Beijing’s RYB Center Suspected of Child Abuse’ (#北京红黄蓝涉嫌虐童#) became one of the top 10 topics on Weibo on Thursday afternoon, but then became inaccessible,” reported What’s on Weibo, a website dedicated to reporting on Chinese social media trends.
The news of the Beijing kindergarten scandal follows earlier cases of abuse in two other kindergartens run by Red Yellow Blue, and more recent incidents of child abuse at a Shanghai daycare run by another company.
I have rarely seen such widespread anger & despair on Chinese social media in recent years
— Wang Feng 王丰 (@ulywang) November 23, 2017
The Guardian reported that Red Yellow Blue and its franchisees operate 1,300 day care centers and nearly 500 kindergartens in 300 Chinese cities, according to its website.
Police have said they have arrested one woman who worked at the kindergarten in relation to the scandal, while another woman has also been arrested for spreading “unconfirmed and illegal facts.”