A lot of parents have no idea that their kids are subjected to violence in kindergartens.
The European Court of Human Rights (the ECHR) is examining a complaint of an underage from Saint-Petersburg against ill-treatment which he was subjected to in kindergarten.
Kindergarten teachers tied up the boy’s hands, locked him up in a dark toilet and threatened that he would be eaten by rats. As a result the boy developed a neurological disorder and is undergoing a treatment for several years now. Russian investigative authorities refused to deal with the case referring to lack of evidence. The ECHR started to investigate tortures nine years after the events. Now, when so much time has already passed, the kindergarten teachers may go unpunished and tortures in kindergartens will continue.
«They told me the rats will eat me»
This story started almost a decade ago, in spring of 2005, when the parents of a boy who attended kindergarten No.42 in Saint-Petersburg, noticed that their son started to get nervous and did not want to go to kindergarten. Every time when getting ready for the kindergarten the kid shouted and cried. At first the parents could not understand what was the reason for this unusual behavior. The situation clarified in autumn. Once after picking her son from the kindergarten the mother noticed a big bruise on his left temple and a convulsive tic in the eye area.
One of the kindergarten teachers told the mother that an eye infection was detected in the kindergarten and the children were instilled special eye drops. Then the parents realized something was wrong. In a few days time the boy developed a convulsive tic in the mouth area. The boy was examined by a neurologist who established a diagnosis “hyperkinesis” (a nervous system disease resulting in muscles disorder).
The boy’s mother transferred him to the other kindergarten straight away and lodged a complaint with the department of consumers’ rights and human welfare protection supervisory authority. She received two answers where it was said that the kindergarten governess, kindergarten teachers and a nurse were subject to disciplinary action. In other words, some small fines were recovered from them. When the boy started to attend another kindergarten he told everything that he was subjected to in the kindergarten. According to the kid, he was put on the folding bed in the toilet, the lights were switched out and he was threatened that rats were going to eat him. The boy was made to stand barefoot with hands up for several hours. Sometime he was punched on his back and his mouth was taped and hands were tied with a scotch-tape.
Nine years of inaction
A little later it has become known that some other kids were subjected to the same tortures, too. The kids were so intimidated that they were silent about it and could have the courage to tell their parents the truth only after they were transferred to another kindergarten. According to the department of education in winter of 2005 the kindergarten governess was fired. The boy’s mother applied to the prosecutor office in order to initiate court proceedings to punish all who are guilty. However, the investigators for some time did not initiate proceedings, referring to lack of evidence. The case was opened only three years later, in 2009, but very soon it was dismissed. For several more years the boy’s parents sought justice in Russia but all their attempts were in vain.
In 2014 the European Court of Human Rights started to examine this case. The ECHR decided to classify the data of the claimant and defendants in the interests of the investigation and due to reasons of personal privacy. Head of the international legal protection department of INGO «The Committee Against Torture» Olga Sadovskaya represents the underage victim’s interests in the European Court. «Our investigative authorities simply did not want to do their job, — Olga is convinced. — There are a lot of witnesses to this story, cause-and-effect relationship is tracked vividly. The only obstacle is indifference towards children».
A lot of time passed since 2005. The boy attends school now. Despite the fact that he still is undergoing treatment of a neuropathologist, it will be difficult to establish the guilt of the kindergarten teachers: ten years is a considerable period of time, during which the witnesses forgot a lot of circumstances of the events. «If the kindergarten personnel had been brought to trial straight away they would have got prison term up to five years, says Olga Sadovskaya. — Now they will be quit for a fine, or simply will get away with that at all».