PHUKET: A daycare center worker caught on tape hitting her students has confessed to assault, but denies the more serious charge of torture under the Child Protection Action, the Phuket Gazette has learned.
Phuket City Police Officer Wirat Tenthong said the teacher, Pranee “Kru Kiew” Jantalert, confessed to harming the children, but denied the abuse constituted a violation of Article 26 of the 2003 Child Protection Act.
Violators of Article 26, which forbids a person to commit acts which result in torturing a child’s body or mind, are liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding 30,000 baht, or both.
To view a YouTube video of the incident, click here.
Both charges against Kru Kiew will be forwarded to the Phuket Public Prosecutor as soon as the case file is signed by Phuket City Superintendent Chote Chidchai, Capt Wirat told the Gazette last week.
Kru Kiew, who responded to a police summons in the case and came in for questioning, has not been arrested. However if she fails to report for her next appointment for additional questioning police will apply for an arrest warrant at Phuket Provincial Court, he said.
Sompis Petthongnang, the 29-years-old mother of one of the victims, told the Gazette Kru Kiew had vacated her home in the Phuket Villa 3 housing estate in Wichit.
“We don’t know where she is now,” she said.
“My son is still going to the center because the other places I wanted to move him to do not accept new students in the middle of the term,” she said.
“But many children are moving to other schools. Right now my son’s class has around 20 students, down from 50 previously.”
After the departure of Kru Kiew, the mother said she had heard no further reports of abuse at the center.
Students aren’t the only ones moving from the center, which was forced to close for a week after the scandal and reopened on August 8.
Nilobon Chianchankarn, a 29-year-old former teacher, said the center is still operating at Wat Thepnimit, but is now under the administration of Wichit Municipality.
“After Kru Kiew left everybody seemed happy and the kids gradually began to come back after the closure. But now there are only two teachers left, as one is off on maternity leave,” she said.
She blamed the low salary, less than 5,000 baht per month, as her reason for leaving.
“I have two children of my own to feed,” she said.
— Atchaa Khamlo
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