May 28, 2024

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Taiwan parents protest after preschool allegedly gave sedatives to children


Parents of preschool children allegedly given sedatives by staff at a kindergarten in Taiwan have been protesting the government’s slow response to the incident.

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in New Taipei City to criticize the fact that it took weeks for local authorities to carry out medical tests on the children after suspicions were raised in mid-May.

On May 14, three parents told local police that their children were irritable and showed self-harming behaviors between February and April this year. They said the children told them their teachers had given them drugs, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Medical tests on the children uncovered traces of barbiturates and benzodiazepines – two types of central nervous system depressant.

The District Prosecutors Office in New Taipei City was first notified of a case involving the potential drugging of minors on May 15. Three days later it directed the police to search the kindergarten, retrieving CCTV recordings and other evidence, according to a statement.

As of early June, more than a dozen parents had reported the matter to the police, CNA reported, and on June 5 city authorities offered drug tests to every child attending the preschool.

According to Lin Ching-feng, director of the government-affiliated medical management association, 29 children had been admitted to the hospital for tests as of June 15, with 28 testing negative for the drugs.

The local education department has ordered the kindergarten to close, and has fined it 150,000 New Taiwan dollars (around US$4,850).

The principal and four teachers from the kindergarten were questioned by police, CNA reported. They have been released on bail, and no date has been set for a court hearing.

The alleged incident has created an uproar in Taiwan, and the fallout could affect the Taiwanese presidential election in January 2024, with the incumbent mayor of New Taipei City, Hou Yu-ih, standing for the opposition Kuomintang party.