Several children, some as young as three, who attended RYB New World Kindergarten in Beijing's Chaoyang district told their parents they'd been fed pills that made them "drowsy", jabbed with needles as punishment and forced by naked adults to strip naked, according to local media.
Cops say they're looking into allegations against the kindergarten, one of the more competitive and expensive options around: Quartz notes the monthly tuition of $750 or so is about half of an average Beijing resident's monthly salary.
Fun Junfeng, the base's political commissioner, confirmed in an interview with the PLA Daily that the husband of the school's director was previously an official there, but said there was so far "no evidence" that military personnel had been involved in the abuse.
The massive scandal has placed Chinese censors in a hard predicament as they confront a towering wave of outrage coming from middle-class parents concerned about the safety of their children, particularly in the wake of a similarly shocking child abuse scandal at a Shanghai daycare.
A group of parents also told Caixin that teachers at the facility had given the children "white tablets and a brown syrup". "How could a child not be scared?" RYB Education issued a statement on Thursday (in Chinese) saying it was co-operating with police and added: "We deeply apologise for this matter which has brought severe disquiet to parents and society!"
In a statement posted on its official microblog on Friday morning, RYB said it was taking the case seriously, apologised to parents and said it was helping authorities. "We are now working with the police to provide relevant surveillance materials and equipment".
"We are now working with the police to provide relevant surveillance materials and equipment; the teachers in question have been suspended and we are co-operating with the police investigation", it added.
"We are now working with the police to provide relevant surveillance materials and equipment". It didn't elaborate on the specifics, however. Almost 20,500 students were enrolled in these facilities. After discovering needle marks on their children's arms, legs, and buttocks, parents have accused the kindergarten of giving their kids injections, feeding them mysterious white pills, and punishing them by having them stand naked for extended periods of time.
Earlier this month, reports emerged of teenagers at a "digital detox" camp in Jiangxi province being flogged with cables and kept in "dark rooms" in solitary confinement. The Beijing News had obtained videos showing teachers throwing a child on a bed and kicking another in the back.
As such abuse allegations have grown more common in China, the public has become increasingly incensed at what many now see as a systemic problem. Authorities are now investigating the nursery, which is a branch of the well-known RYB Education chain.
Even Xinhua, the state-run news agency, expressed horror at the slew of accusations. But these incidents happen again and again, and must draw high-level attention.
The kindergarten was still open Thursday, but few children showed up for the class concerned.