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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Ex-child home staff tells court she was 'helping boy relax'

Ex-child home staff tells court she was 'helping boy relax'

A 45-year-old former female carer at the Children's Residential Home in Mong Kok who is being prosecuted for child abuse told a Kowloon City Magistrates' Court yesterday that she was helping a two-year-old South Asian boy relax his muscles so he could sleep when she brought his feet to his face.
Chow Chui-ying is one of 34 former staff members of the home operated by the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children on Portland Street charged with child abuse.

She pleaded not guilty to ill-treatment or neglect of children and told Magistrate Frances Leung Nga-yan: "All I wanted was to help him to relax so he could go to sleep." She did not mean to harm him.

Footage from a security camera was played in court, and it showed that at about 8.30pm on December 14, 2021, the boy was crawling around his bed.

Chow grabbed him and pinned him on the bed. She then pressed both of the boy's feet to his face in turn for about a dozen seconds. She had completed a number of courses and training programs related to early childhood education, including a training program to help toddlers with delayed muscle development and to muscle tension problems, Chow said.

She also said she had learnt how to "stretch" toddlers to help them relax their muscles in order to "stop them from throwing a tantrum and to sleep better."

Chow said she had been taking care of the boy since he was 16 months old and was responsible for assessing his development. So she paid more attention to him and played with him in her spare time.

She described the South Asian boy as active, usually cheerful with a good temperament and not too emotional.

Chow also said she found the boy was still awake when she inspected the bedroom on the night of December 14, so she set about carrying out stretching exercises.

Lifting his feet and drawing them up to his face was what she believed was an appropriate stretching exercise to help the boy sleep, and there was no intention to harm him.

She added that the boy's body was so pliable that he could raise his feet to his ears.

Chow also asked the court to summon the former director of the home, Chui Wai-ying, to present her performance evaluation report.

Chui then confirmed the report had been written by her, and in it she pointed to Chow loving children and being able to handle youngsters "with firmness and gentleness" when they disobeyed, so she had a grade of "good."

The case was adjourned to February 16.
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