Jail for infant care teacher who slapped baby for refusing to drink milk

SINGAPORE: Frustrated by a 13-month-old baby’s refusal to drink milk during feeding time, an infant care teacher slapped, pushed and restrained the child in March 2023.

The abuse left a red mark on the infant’s face, which prompted her father to demand that the pre-school investigate what happened.

The teacher, 40, was sentenced to nine months’ jail on April 17 after pleading guilty to one charge of ill-treating the baby. She and the pre-school cannot be named due to a gag order protecting the identity of the victim.

The court heard that the teacher, now unemployed, was responsible for caring for infants aged two to 18 months’ old. She fed them and changed their diapers, among other duties.

At about 5.20pm on March 15, 2023, she tried to feed the baby but the child refused to drink milk from a bottle.

Angered, the teacher placed her leg over the baby’s hands to prevent her from moving and tried to force her mouth open.

When the baby struggled, the accused slapped her cheek forcefully and pushed the crying child into a crawling position.

Twenty minutes later, another employee at the pre-school saw a red mark on the baby’s cheek and asked the teacher what had happened. She did not respond and placed an ice pack on the baby’s face before going home at 6pm.

When the baby’s father arrived to pick her up at around 6.15pm, he was told that his daughter had fallen from her cot. He demanded that the pre-school review closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage.

At around 7pm, the teacher was alerted by a colleague that the baby’s father was upset over his child’s injury. She then came clean about the abuse.

She was suspended on March 16 and fired on March 20.

The pre-school requested to meet the victim’s father on March 20, but this was postponed to March 28 as he was abroad. After learning what happened, he lodged a police report that day.

The teacher was arrested on Dec 5, 2023.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hidayat Amir sought nine to 10 months in jail for the teacher, noting that the victim was exceedingly vulnerable as she could not tell anyone about the assault.

He said: “If not for the red mark on her cheek, it is arguable that the offence would have gone undetected. This is compounded by the accused’s evasion. She was not forthcoming at the start and kept mum when asked about the red mark.”

The DPP added that the accused had abused her position of trust and authority as an infant care teacher and showed persistent aggression towards the victim.

The infant’s father, who was present at the hearing on April 17, cried when CCTV footage of the abuse was played in court.

Speaking to reporters after the sentencing, he said he was glad the teacher was jailed for her offence.

He said the red mark was visible on his daughter’s face for a week and the teacher has not apologised for her actions.

He added: “She was just a baby and I cannot fathom how someone could do this to her. Justice was served for my daughter today.” - The Straits Times/ANN

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