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The Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children headquarters in Mong Kok. Photo: Edmond So.

Former childcare worker jailed for assault on 2-year-old girl at Hong Kong children’s home

  • Ex-childcare worker sentenced to a month behind bars for attack on toddler at Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children home
  • Magistrate says 32-year-old woman’s abuse of position merited immediate imprisonment
Brian Wong

A 32-year-old woman was on Friday jailed for a month after she pleaded guilty to an attack on a two-year-old girl at a home run by a major Hong Kong child protection organisation.

Lee Pui-ching, who was a relief childcare worker, is the fifth case to be dealt with by the courts after 34 people were charged in connection with allegations of abuse at the Children’s Residential Home in Mong Kok, run by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children.

Lee, who ran an online business before finding herself behind bars, pleaded guilty in August to ill-treatment or neglect over her assault on the toddler on December 12 last year.

Kowloon City Court heard Lee slapped the girl’s face, pulled her arms, slapped her on the legs and shook her head after the two-year-old tried to snatch a box of toys from her.

Lee resigned from the post when assaults at the home came to light after a complaint was filed to police. She said her decision to leave was also because of the differences between the way the home supervised children and what she was taught in university.

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Lee’s defence counsel said in mitigation that she had committed the offence because of her inexperience and a shortage of staff at the home.

A probation officer highlighted that Lee lacked the knack for supervision of relatively mature toddlers and was ashamed of her unprofessional conduct.

The former carer also acknowledged her behaviour constituted a breach of trust.

Kowloon City Law Courts Building. Photo: SCMP

Acting Principal Magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan said the defendant’s abuse of her professional position deserved immediate imprisonment.

She told the court that, although the child lacked discipline, the defendant’s aggressive response could potentially convey the wrong message that conflicts could be settled by force.

“As a professional child carer, the defendant should not have taken the easy way out when disciplining children who misbehaved,” Wong said.

But the magistrate accepted the offence was a one-off incident, possibly because of Lee’s inexperience, and was not the most serious among the hundreds of abuses alleged to have happened at the home.

There was also no evidence the assault had a long-term effect on the girl’s development, Wong added.

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Police have charged a total of 34 childcare workers over allegations of more than 400 assaults at the home.

Four former carers have already been jailed for four to 8½ months after they pleaded guilty to assault charges. Five others will stand trial in the magistrate’s court.

Another 24 people will appear in the District Court, where they face up to seven years in jail if convicted.

Ill-treatment or neglect of a child is punishable by up to three years in jail when the case is heard by a magistrate.