Hong Kong police have arrested three more employees of the Children’s Residential Home on suspicion of assaulting or neglecting at least 39 toddlers in their care. A total of 23 people were apprehended since December last year in connection with the alleged abuse scandal.

The latest round of arrests were made on Friday when police took three women – aged 24 to 45 – into custody in Tseung Kwan O, Kwai Chung and Sham Shui Po respectively. They are currently detained for investigation, while all children affected were hospitalised for treatment.

Children's Residential Home
Children’s Residential Home. File Photo: Children’s Residential Home website.

Friday’s arrests came after an independent panel report issued last Wednesday concluded that workers of the care home operated by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children had no regard “for the feelings, respect or dignity of the children.”

The arrested caretakers stand accused of breaching the Offences against the Person Ordinance by ill-treating children in their care. Police said on Friday that further arrests may be made.

The scandal came to light after police received a report that some children were allegedly abused by staff at an outdoor playground at the residential home in Mong Kok. The Independent Review Committee, chaired by lawyer Lester Garson Huang, found that a child had been lifted by the collar and dumped onto a mat, while another was thrown against a padded wall. Some employees were also said to have used slapping as corporal punishment, among other misconduct.

Merchant logo Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children
Merchant logo Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children’s headquarters in Mong Kok. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

“[The agency’s management] exposed the children in their care to unnecessary harm by failing to put in place the necessary systems to prevent and detect abuse, and to review its operations in the interests of the children,” the report read.

Director of the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children Susan Choy and the superintendent of the Children’s Residential Home Shirley Chui stepped down after the review committee report was published.

According to the Children’s Residential Home website, the facility offers care services to children aged three or under. Aside from day care, families with emergency may place their children at the facility for six weeks, while children requiring short-term residential care may stay up to three months. Long-term placement ends when the toddler turns three.

The panel slammed the agency as having “errors, failures and omissions at practically all levels,” saying the organisation needed a “wholesale change of staff.” The management were also urged to reform the organisation and the care home by conducting regular assessments, surprise visits and establishing a complaint handling and whistleblowing system.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.