Voices from the Past: Child Abuse and Suppressed Rumors, Then and Now

Rumors of child endangerment spark outrage in the community. There are lurid tales of caregivers using children’s bodies for their own selfish and nefarious purposes. People whisper of official collusion and stories that the worst abuses have yet to be revealed. The authorities move swiftly to suppress these rumors, and an investigation ultimately debunks the most heinous of charges, but the damage has been done. The public’s anger then shifts. Before, they targeted the child abusers. Now, their anger includes the officials who seemed a little too eager to dismiss the allegations as merely the gossip and hearsay of an excitable and unruly mob.

This could easily be a description of the RYB Kindergarten scandal that shocked and infuriated parents and citizens in Beijing this past month. Sensational allegations of child sexual abuse, injecting young children with drugs, and the beating and intimidation of other children have been covered extensively. That RYB was run by a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and possibly had some high-profile names among its backers added to the drama surrounding the case.