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Kinderland bans staff from using personal devices at work after alleged abuse cases

The move to ban staff from using personal devices during teaching hours was criticised by some online. 

Kinderland bans staff from using personal devices at work after alleged abuse cases

Kinderland Preschool @ Woodlands Mart on Aug 29, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: Preschool chain Kinderland has banned staff from using personal devices at work, a move which it said will protect the privacy of children at their schools.

The move comes after videos of two teachers allegedly abusing children at its Woodlands Mart and Choa Chu Kang centres emerged recently.

Both were arrested this week, with one of them charged on Wednesday with ill-treating a child.

A former Kinderland teacher had told CNA that she recorded the widely circulated videos of the alleged abuse incidents at Woodlands Mart.

In response to CNA's queries, Kinderland said on Thursday morning (Aug 31) that the ban on personal devices was not intended to stop "whistleblowing". 

"By reinforcing the use of only company devices to take photos/videos of children, Kinderland hopes to reduce the tendency to use personal devices for official purposes," said Kinderland.

"Thus, while at work, where work is work, if devices are needed, then it’s official devices that should be used and not personal ones.

"It was not the idea to restrict the use of personal phones to remove whistleblowing, but the concern over the privacy of the children that spurred the reinforcing of this policy."

Kinderland announced the personal devices ban on Facebook on Wednesday evening, saying that it has company-issued devices to manage communication with parents.

This includes the sharing of photos and videos through a pre-school management app that updates parents on their child's progress.

"To also prevent the misuse of photos and videos of our children, Kinderland will now make it a policy that staff not use their personal devices during teaching hours," it said in the post.

"We hope these measures will better protect all."

However, the move by Kinderland was criticised by some on Facebook, with one commenter describing it as a "super red flag".

Some replied to the post saying that the preschool chain was trying to "protect" itself.

Another said: "You need (to set) up a proper whistleblowing program before putting up this policy."

In its reply to CNA on Thursday, Kinderland said that besides photos and videos, the app also allows the school to upload notices, information and resources for parents.

The parents can also log in to receive notices and information from the school.

Kinderland said: "It has come to light that if personal devices are allowed in the workplace, then this will compromise the security and control of the children’s photos/videos that Kinderland can exercise.  
"So in order to safeguard the teachers (who will not be blamed for stolen/lost photos) and children, it is better that all photos and videos are captured and stored only on company-related devices."

It added that in the event of "unacceptable behaviour by staff or teachers, CCTVs that will be installed would address this issue".

Kinderland had earlier said that it would put in place new measures, including expanding the use of CCTVs to all classrooms at the two centres.

"At the same time, the official devices may also be used to record such incidences (if any) and used to file reports," it added. 

CNA has contacted Kinderland for comment on the criticism it has received online.

The cases of alleged abuse at the two Kinderland centres emerged after several videos made their rounds on social media this week.

The first woman - 33-year-old Lin Min, who taught at Kinderland Preschool @ Woodlands Mart - was arrested on Monday after video clips circulated online showing her trying to force children to drink water and shouting and hitting them.

Court documents showed that she allegedly forced a 23-month-old child to lie down and poured water into the girl's mouth.

The Early Childhood Development Agency said it is investigating the case involving the other teacher at Kinderland preschool at Sunshine Place in Choa Chu Kang.

Source: CNA/ga(gr)


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