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Foreign teacher, cram school face charges for girl's spinal injuries

9-year-old's spine injured after students fall on top of her during classroom activity

Location of girl's injuries (left), doctor's report on her injuries (right). (Facebook, Breaking News Commune photos)

Location of girl's injuries (left), doctor's report on her injuries (right). (Facebook, Breaking News Commune photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A foreign English teacher and the owner of a large English cram school chain are facing negligent bodily harm charges after a classroom activity the instructor had devised allegedly led to a student suffering serious spinal injuries.

Thursday evening (May 6), the mother of a 9-year-old girl reported in Breaking News Commune (爆料公社) that on the evening of March 5, her daughter had attended an English class at a well-known cram school chain in Keelung. When the woman, surnamed Chen (陳), picked her daughter up, she noticed the girl was crying and in a great deal of pain.

The next day, an X-ray showed the girl's cervical vertebra had sustained injuries. Chen then went to the cram school and demanded to see surveillance camera footage of the previous evening's class.

She said that in the video, the instructor was teaching the students vocabulary. At one point, the teacher had her daughter stand at the front of the classroom and called on all the students to place their hands on her head.

As they all rushed to press their hands against her head, she lost her balance and fell forward. Her classmates also lurched forward, and students piled on top of the girl's neck and back for about 16 seconds

Chen alleges that the instructor failed to tell the students to get off her daughter or take any action to remove the students. Chen said the weight of the students caused her daughter's injury.

She added that her daughter has for the past two to three weeks had difficulty sleeping at night due to the pain. She said they had frequently taken her to a doctor for medical treatment, but her condition had not improved.

On April 28, an MRI revealed that she had herniated cervical intervertebral discs between C3 and C5. The girl was given a neck brace to wear to stabilize her neck.

Chen said that because there are a lot of nerves in the injured area, her daughter is suffering from headaches, dizziness, soreness, and numbness in her limbs. She said the symptoms are seriously affecting her studies and life, as she has not been able to lower her head to do her homework for longer than five minutes at a time in the past two months.

Included in Chen's post is an audio file of her daughter screaming in agony because of the pain. Chen can be heard saying that it is "day 50" as her daughter shouts in the background: "I'm in pain. My back hurts so much."

She alleges that the cram school has avoided meeting with her to discuss the matter for over two months. It is for this reason that she said she had decided to make the incident public and take legal action against the teacher and the head of the cram school.

The Keelung City Police Department has started an investigation into the incident and taken the teacher and the school's owner in for questioning. Afterward, police transferred them to the Keelung District Prosecutor's Office to be investigated for negligent bodily harm.