Are toddlers safe in a crèche?

CCTV footage installed in a crèche in Italy has exposed the abuse of the toddlers at the hand of their carers, reviving the debate over the regulation of day care for young children.

According to French daily le Parisien, the mother of the girl in the video was already suspicious of the "Cip e Ciop" crèche, situated in the town of Pistoia, a few kilometres from Florence. After noticing hygienic and psychological problems in their children, and yet being refused entry into the establishment, several parents went to the local authorities to complain.   

After several months, the police installed a surveillance camera on the premises. The following extract shows a girl being abused as she's being fed. Other children are grouped in the corner of the room, seemingly intimidated. Both the manager and the woman in the video have now been arrested.


An extract of the footage compiled by police

© La Voce.

“In France, you can’t work in a crèche without a clean criminal record”

Aline Bertin runs a day-care centre of around 30 children aged between 10 weeks and three years in Bordeaux, in south-west France. She prefers to remain anonymous.

I think that this could come about because it was such a small establishment, with only two members of staff - and both of them involved in the abuse. At my crèche we have 13 people looking after the children.

In France, you can't work in a crèche without a clean criminal record, even if you're a cleaner. But, you can never be 100 percent certain of anyone.

When children get unruly, there are ways of channelling their surplus energy - that's what nannies are trained to do. For example, we'll set up a little track for them to run around and let off steam. Once they're exhausted, we move on to calmer activities. Children can sometimes become aggressive, and bite for example. In that case, we calmly explain to them that they mustn't bite their friends; if necessary, they can take out their anger on their teddies, but it has to stop their.

At our crèche parents are free to come in to collect their children when they want. Not being able to do that, like in the crèche in Italy, is a bad sign. Using video surveillance however, is perhaps a little heavy. Although it's a way of reassuring parents, it would allow them to criticise us constantly, which in the long term, could be burdensome."