Women lawyers queue up to help 'drugged' kindergarten pupils

Legal experts across country volunteer advice to families of children allegedly fed antivirals by kindergartens to maintain school attendance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 4:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 March, 2014, 10:56am

Dozens of women lawyers from around the country have offered to give free advice to parents whose children were allegedly given antiviral drugs by their kindergartens to ensure high attendances and payments.

Liu Wei, a lawyer from Zhengzhou, in Henan, has set up a network of lawyers to offer help to the families. So far 22 women lawyers from 10 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Shandong and Hainan , have signed up.

"As a mother, I feel for the families who are affected," said Liu. "Child protection lacks legal safeguards in China. It is challenging to file a lawsuit relating to these incidents."

Evidence that nursery schools had given children a flu treatment without their parents consent first surfaced at two kindergartens in Xian , in Shaanxi province, earlier this month.

As a mother, I feel for the families. Child protection lacks legal safeguards
Liu Wei, lawyer

About 10 kindergartens in Xian, Jilin city, Jilin province, and Yichang , in Hubei , are now thought to have handed out the drugs. Parents claim their children have suffered symptoms including headaches, body aches and itching.

Other children have reported more severe problems including stomach aches, swollen genitals and kidney problems.

Parents of some of the children held meetings last week to discuss filing lawsuits.

"We have to seek legal process to take care of our children," said one parent from Jilin whose 21/2-year-old boy attended one of the nursery schools. "Hundreds of children now suffer from symptoms which might affect their future."

About 400 parents who sent their children to four kindergartens in Jilin are collecting medical evidence to back up their claims that the pupils' health has been harmed, he said.

Liu said it might be difficult to prove conclusively that the children's ailments were caused by the antiviral flu treatment they were given, moroxydine hydrochloride, also known as ABOB.

"Due to the lack of medical proof of what side effects ABOB can cause in children, it's tricky to say whether we can sue the kindergartens for illegal medical practice or the crime of intentional injury," she said.

It might be more practical for parents to demand group compensation for their financial losses caring for their sick children, she said.

So far her legal network has given advice to dozens of parents, mainly from Xian. Parents in Jilin also plan to contact the legal network as they fear their children may suffer long-term damage to their health.

"We are not short-sighted, just asking for one-time compensation," said the parent from Jilin. "We want to sue the local public health department to guarantee our children's future."