Two kindergarten teachers in Wenling, Zhejiang, were detained yesterday after a photo of a woman lifting a little boy by his ears were widely circulated on microblogs by angry internet users.
Yan Yanhong , 20, was put under criminal custody for abusing children, and her colleague Tong Qingqing was put under administrative custody for a week for assisting her, Wenling police said.
In the photo, posted on Tuesday on a new microblog account, Yan is seen smiling as she lifts the boy about 10 centimetres off the floor, with a hand grasping each of his ears. The person who posted the photo, who refused to reveal his identity, said a parent received the photo from Yan while chatting with her online and had asked local media to investigate the matter.
Yan, who worked for the Blue Peacock Kindergarten, told the Qiangjiang Evening News that the photo was taken a month ago "just for fun".
"I asked my colleague Tong Qingqing to take this photo. She didn't agree to do so in the beginning, and I explained that it was just for fun and that it would take just one moment," she said. She said the boy was a humorous student and they get along quite well.
Asked why she would send the photo to others, she said: "I just thought it was so funny. The other day when I was chatting with a parent online, I couldn't help sharing it with him. I didn't expect such strong reaction from parents."
Angry internet users later discovered that Yan had posted other photos of abused children on her blog.
One photo showed a boy's mouth sealed with packaging tape, with the caption "you deserve it". Another showed a boy upside down in a bin, with the caption "I threw him in".
Both teachers were sacked by the kindergarten on Tuesday after local media made inquiries. Wenling's Education Bureau said it had called the police and had told the kindergarten to "self-reflect".
The bureau's deputy director, Teng Linhua, was quoted by the Youth Times as saying the government should not be held responsible for the morality of teachers working at private kindergartens.
A subsequent investigation found that Yan did not have a teacher's certificate. Only 40 per cent of kindergarten teachers in Wenling hold such a certificate, with kindergartens struggling to find enough qualified teachers.