TL;DR – Don’t be so quick to judge.
There was an earlier report about an alleged child abuse in a childcare centre in Singapore. Photos taken at the centre were circulated on Chinese social media platform Wechat. There were accompanying captions which accused the childcare centre of mistreating the children. Those photos and messages went viral.
The childcare centre has denied those allegations. It said that the photos are taken out of context, and was able to explain each and single photo uploaded. For example, there was a picture that showed children lying on the floor without mattresses. From the photos, it was alleged that the centre was letting the children sleep on the floor. The centre clarified that the children were doing “stretching and breathing exercises” after lunch.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which regulates kindergartens and childcare centres, has said it has not uncovered anything adverse, or signs of abuse and neglect at Sam’s. An ECDA spokesman said its investigation showed the photos “appear to have been taken out of context”.
In a statement released earlier, the centre said that it believes the photos were posted by an unhappy former employee, who has since returned to China.
But. People are skeptical
As expected, the clarifications by the centre was met by skepticism. One of the online comments read:
“Sounds like the PR Officer of the centre has sat down and penned some very well thought out responses to all the pictures.. Too good to be believable..”
Another was even more presumptuous:
“shd revoke this centre’s licence. I’d never ever consider such a center to send my kids. If it’s been operating from the 1990s? Then I suspect it maintained its operation standard w/o any improvememt all the years.”
What do the parents say?
If a childcare centre was mistreating children so badly, the parents of the children surely would have kicked up a huge ruckus by now. After all, they would be the ones with the greatest vested interest. They whould have written lots online in response to the story, telling of how their kids were unhappy or appeared to be suffering under the care of the staff at the childcare centre.
So we tried to look for comments online from parents of children who attend the childcare centre. But we couldn’t find any. Isn’t that strange? To us, that online silence from parents speaks volumes. In contrast, of the 10 parents that Straits Times spoke to, none of them planned to withdraw their children from the centre.
In the report on the Straits Times, one parent, whose two year-old son had been attending the centre for seven months, was full of praises for the centre. According to that parent, his son is happy to go to the centre every day and always gets home happy. Another parent had this question: “If something really wasn’t right, they (i.e. the accusers) would report to the police. Why just post it?”
Latest Development: 35 parents show support for centre
According to Yahoo, 35 parents whose children go to Sam’s Early Learning Centre think that those uploaded photoes “maliciously taken out of context” by someone seeking to harm the childcare centre’s reputation.
A letter showing support for the centre has been signed by 35 parents and these parents have sent the letter to the media.
The parents said this in the letter,
“From the beginning, we did not believe these allegations were true as our children have always been happy and healthy, and there have never been any complaints from our children about abuse or mistreatment in the many years our children have been attending Sam’s.
“Sam’s has been very forthcoming and has explained the context behind the pictures, and we are satisfied with their explanations. We are glad that the ECDA report has cleared the name of the school and that our trust in the school and its teachers has not been misplaced.”
“We believe that the pictures were deliberately and maliciously taken out of context and captioned with defamatory statements by someone intending to harm Sam’s reputation.”
Don’t be so quick to judge
You could say this is just “another day, another case”.
While it’s just made-up or fake news we’ve read, these allegations, when turn out to be false, would make all the people who are wrongfully condemning the centre look really stupid. But over and above that, what about the loss of reputation, the distress and all the damage and hurt brought to the childcare centre’s operator and team?
Remember this: We’re living in a world where anyone can just post anything about anyone online. All of us can be keyboard warriors. But hey while we sit behind our computers or type away furiously on our phones, be very mindful that what we’re doing can hurt real people, or even innocent people.
In this “post-truth” age of “alternative-facts”, we shouldn’t be so quick to jump to conclusions or rush to judge.