Gov’t threatens day care centers over blacklistFollowing the JoongAng Ilbo’s report Thursday that owners of day care centers share a blacklist of teachers who reported child abuse and management irregularities to authorities, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission said yesterday it will hold owners legally accountable if they are found using such a list.
“Under current laws designed to protect whistle-blowers contributing to the public interest, the firing of a teacher for whistle-blowing could earn an owner a two-year prison term or 20 million won [$18,000] fine,” said the commission in a statement released yesterday.
“Anyone who compiles a blacklist and discloses the identities of teachers on the list will meet the sternest punishment,” said Kim An-tae, a commission official.
The commission said a person charged with disclosing the blacklist could face up to three years in prison.
“If public officials dispatched to inspect day care centers reveal the identities of whistle-blowers to owners, they will also be subject to legal punishment,” the commission said.
Teachers who cooperated with a joint investigation by the Songpa Police Precinct and Songpa District Office into 700 day care centers in Seoul and Gyeonggi, which concluded that at least 10 billion won in state subsidies had been siphoned off by owners, have been placed on a hiring blacklist, which has been shared by day care center owners and managers.
The publicizing of a text message sent by one of the fired teachers to a Songpa police officer pleading for help - and saying she will never work again because she’s on the list - fueled public outrage.
Public concern over standards at day care centers has grown recently after a string of child abuse cases in the country coupled with the disclosure of the widespread embezzlement of government subsidies.
One teacher at a public day care center in Busan is now behind bars for allegedly smashing a 1-year-old’s back, leaving bruises.
Another child abuse case unfolded yesterday in Sejong City where it was reported that a teacher in her 40s at a day care center at the central government complex allegedly kicked and hit a 1-year-old with a tissue box. The authorities confirmed the abuse after checking CCTV recordings from the center.
By Ko Sung-pyo, Kang Jin-kyu [firstname.lastname@example.org]