RYB Kindergarten: red China, yellow fetish, blue pills


The Aquinian’s Vincent Jiang explores sexual assault allegations against a Chinese education program and the government’s censorship of media reports on child abuse.

When a child-abuse scandal in China went trending on Wechat and Weibo on Nov. 23, I was checking my cell phone and waiting to get my medium double-double.

“Needle marks were found on children’s bodies.”

“Kids were molested by ‘uncle doctor.'”

These alleged comments were overwhelmingly flushing my feeds on Twitter. For me, it was hard to believe at first glance.

The word Honghuanglan (红黄蓝), the name of the education program associated with the allegations, was mentioned the most among these shared articles and it became the top search on Weibo, arguably the fastest media outlet in China. I couldn’t help but take out my earbuds to watch and listen to the parents’ interviews.

Unfortunately, that day, I lost my appetite.

It was the talk of the day on Chinese social media. More than dozens of parents filed reports against the kindergarten on Nov. 22, with accusations of drugging and molesting young children. Parents claim that their children were given “white pills” and “brown syrup.” There was evidence of pictures showing needle wounds in their children’s legs, arms and buttocks.

Some of the parents also found signs of sexual abuse on their children’s bodies. In an interview with a mother whose child was stripped naked during “health checks,” the health examiner was described as “uncle doctor” and “grandpa doctor,” and he did not wear any clothes. According to the children, they were sometimes taken to watch “piston motion” as a class with “uncle doctor.”

The allegations of rape and twisted sexual education are highly suspected by authorities, according to vague Chinese media reports and organizations like the LA Times, CNN and CBC.

The kindergarten is under Red Yellow Blue Education. It is an New York Stock Exchange-listed company with 175 franchised kindergartens across China. The shares of RYB have crashed nearly 40 per cent since last Friday and an investigation is underway.

“I have a long, long telescope that can reach all the way to your home, and I’ll watch everything you do and say.”

This sounds like a typical line in a horror movie, but it is what the teacher had apparently told the children to make them stay quiet. For me, I can’t think of any reason for those kids to lie to their parents about what happened.

My mind was far gone from class. I took out my cell phone shortly after I finished my second class, hoping to read more on this matter. Surprisingly, the articles I shared earlier were becoming invalid, and Weibo’s top search was replaced by some cliché celebrity news. All the articles regarding Honghuanglan vanished without a trace.

The damage control for RYB Education on social media has reached a cunning textbook level, in a way that makes me really terrified. How could such a big educational institution let things like this happen? What is in the pills? Who can protect our children?

Child molestation is not exclusive to China but it is very easy to get away with. According to the FBI, only one out of 10 sexual abuse cases are reported to law enforcement. The average child molester will offend 200 to 400 times before being caught, if indeed they ever are.

Kindergarten is a sacred place because parents rely on schools to teach children how to be conscious human beings. This is not the first case of child abuse in Chinese kindergartens and it reflects a social problem as China neglects to realize the importance of sex education in children’s early stages. If these abuses were left covered up, affected children would go on to experience years and years of festering mental and emotional trauma — and no doubt will regardless. What happened in the kindergarten could foster a batch of future abusers, allowing the cycle to continue.

Children are the future of our society, and also the easiest target to violate. Humanity was challenged by the darkest fantasy of human nature, and they are slowly consuming the good morality and justice. But kindness will always win and kindness has its own telescope to watch out for every innocent child.

Clarification: An earlier version of this commentary claimed, “If these abuses were left covered up, the kindergarten could nurture a batch of future pedophiles.” It has been expanded to first and foremost recognize the unavoidable mental and emotional effects of child abuse.