A woman carries a child as they arrive at the RYB kindergarten in Beijing, China, Friday, Nov. 24, 2017. Chinese authorities are investigating allegations that children attending the RYB kindergarten in Beijing run by a U.S.-listed company have been abused and molested. Picture: Ng Han Guan/AP

Chinese educational services
provider RYB Education Inc said it had removed the head
of one of its kindergarten, as allegations of child abuse at the
Beijing nursery rocked the country’s booming childcare industry.

In a statement issued late Saturday, New York-listed RYB
also said it had fired a 22-year-old female teacher at the RYB
Education New World kindergarten. It said the teacher, surnamed
Liu, had been detained by district police on suspicion of abuse.

Beijing police were investigating claims of child abuse at
the kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, after state-run
Xinhua news agency reported they were checking allegations that
children were “reportedly sexually molested, pierced by needles
and given unidentified pills”.

Several teachers at the kindergarten had already been
suspended since Thursday.

RYB’s New York-listed shares plunged 38.4 percent on Friday
as the scandal sparked outrage among parents and the public.

Another woman surnamed Liu was also arrested for allegedly
disrupting social order by spreading false information about the
alleged kindergarten abuse, Chaoyang police said.

The second woman, a 31-year-old from Beijing, was arrested
on Thursday.

Parents said their children, some as young as three, gave
accounts of a naked adult male conducting purported “medical
check-ups” on unclothed pupils, other media said.

The Chaoyang district has launched an investigation into all
childcare facilities in its area.

It had also dispatched officials to the kindergarten and
asked the school to communicate with the parents and make sure
that the children there are safe.

Founded in 1998, RYB provides early education services in
China. At the end of June, the Beijing-based company was
operating 80 kindergartens and had franchised an additional 175
covering 130 cities and towns in China.

It was not the first case of alleged abuse at an RYB school.

In 2015, a court in Jilin province found two teachers guilty
of physically abusing children at one of its kindergartens in
the city of Siping. In that case, staff at the school on
“multiple occasions used needles and intimidation tactics to
abuse many of the children under their care”, according to a
court ruling document.

China’s education ministry said on Thursday that it had
begun a special investigation into the operation of
kindergartens, and told education departments nationwide to take
heed of “these types of incidents”.

Separate cases of children in China being slapped, beaten
with a stick and having their mouths sealed shut with duct tape
have also gone viral and fuelled anger online.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Pei Li; Editing by Simon
Cameron-Moore)