Beijing’s Civil Affairs Bureau set up a child welfare and protection department on Dec 20, forming a “joint force” to protect children, according to a senior official.
The new department is the first of its kind at the provincial level in China.
Li Hongbing, head of the bureau, said the department has integrated resources from several other departments to provide assistance to more than 25,000 children living in difficulty in Beijing — orphans, abandoned babies, left-behind children, homeless children and children saved from human traffickers.
“The department’s services are expected to cover the more than 2.8 million children living in Beijing,” he said.
The new department will provide services related to child welfare, adoption and relief. Before it was established, such services were scattered among several departments, such as those dealing with social welfare and the marriage registry, which manages adoptions.
“Work related to children has been given priority,” Li said.
The move comes after a series of child abuse cases shocked the public in the past few months. Li said child protection is a “huge social project” that requires direction from the government and the participation of families and social forces.
On Nov 13, the Shanghai police detained a person surnamed Zheng who was in charge of a day care center where staff were caught on camera abusing toddlers. Three other staffers were detained, the police said.
At about the same time, Beijing police looked into allegations that teachers at a kindergarten under Golden Cradle Education and Technology Group — which has more than 700 kindergartens and schools nationwide — abused children. Teachers involved have been detained, the police said.
On Nov 22, a kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang district affiliated with RYB Education, a preschool education provider listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was reported to police for potential child abuse. Both the head of the preschool and a female teacher suspected of child abuse were fired by the company.
The Beijing Education Commission conducted a safety inspection last month at kindergartens across the city, and the results were listed in a database. Those with potential risks and problems were told to make immediate improvements.