SINGAPORE: Feeling frustrated at her employer’s son with special needs for being slow in getting ready for school, a domestic helper dragged, slapped and kicked the eight-year-old boy. 

Sakinah, a 25-year-old Indonesian national, was sentenced to three weeks’ jail on Wednesday (Feb 21) after pleading guilty to one charge of voluntarily causing hurt to the boy. 

The boy’s name and location of the offence cannot be published under a court order protecting the victim’s identity. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

Sakinah had worked as a domestic helper for the employer since June 2023, taking care of her employer’s four children and doing household chores.

Her employer had told her that the victim, who had been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, had special needs and needed special attention. 

Three of the children, including the eight-year-old boy, would be picked up on weekdays by their school bus at around 6.20am. Sakinah was responsible for getting them ready for school and taking them to board the school bus. 

On Jan 31, 2024, around 6.15am, Sakinah asked the victim and his two siblings to get ready before their bus arrived in five minutes. 

The boy was playing with his crayons and robot in the house and was slow in putting on his shoes.

After Sakinah took the crayons and robot away, the boy began to shout and refused to wear his shoes, which made her frustrated as she felt she was unable to manage the boy’s behaviour.

At around 6.18am, the boy and his two sisters were outside their unit with Sakinah. The boy lay on the floor with his back against the wall. 

Sakinah walked over to the boy, who had put his arms over his face as the domestic helper slapped him on his forearm with her hand. 

She then bent down and continued to slap at the boy’s head and forearms, before flicking his right ear and slapping his head. 

The boy continued to lie on the floor as he kicked, thrashed around and wailed. Sakinah then tried to drag the boy to get up by his arm, before slapping him again on the head. 

The incident was captured on the doorbell camera of a neighbour, who viewed the camera footage after hearing a boy crying outside his neighbour’s unit. 

In video footage played in court, Sakinah was seen wearing a blue top and green pants, standing over the boy in school uniform who was sitting on the floor. 

She was seen pushing the boy over with her knee, which caused the boy to fall on all fours and raise his hand to clutch at the side of his head. When he was on all fours, she then kicked the boy once in the leg.

The victim’s two sisters managed to board the school bus, however, the bus left without the boy. Sakinah then sent the boy to school via public bus. 

As a result of the incident, the boy sustained a scratch on his arm and a knee abrasion. His mother did not send him for medical examination after deeming his injuries to be minor.

The neighbour, who reviewed his doorbell footage later around 9am, lodged a police report at 10.51am on the same day. 

The prosecution sought a “short custodial sentence” as only minor hurt was caused in this case. 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lu Huiyi said that the domestic helper’s actions were a “disproportionate response” to the boy’s tantrum and that she had acted “especially violently” by kicking the boy after pushing him down to the floor.

Pleading for leniency, Sakinah said that she was the sole breadwinner for her family and had a young child who lived with her mother in Indonesia. 

In sentencing, District Judge Eddy Tham said that while the injuries sustained by the boy were light, the woman had hit him multiple times. 

“Looking after a child, especially one who is a special needs child, can be challenging and trying at times. However, all caregivers must not allow their frustrations to boil over resulting in the venting of them in a violent manner to a defenceless child,” said the judge.

Anyone who voluntarily causes hurt to a person can be jailed for up to three years or be fined up to S$5,000 (US$3,700) or receive both as punishment.

This article was originally published in TODAY.

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