A kindergarten teacher has been sacked after he instructed children to smell his feet before sharing images of one young child holding his foot online.
The disturbing incident is now subject of a police investigation after a screenshot of the teacher's WeChat post began to spread rapidly on Chinese Twitter-like social media site, Weibo earlier this week, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
The screenshot shows two images and a video of a boy, aged three, in a yellow jumper holding the man's socked foot with both hands, with his nose against the sole of the foot. They appear to be inside a classroom.
In the post's caption the teacher said the act was early "sadomasochism training" while noting parents and teachers were blocked from seeing the post.
Following outrage over the incident online, local police in the Chinese city of Ruijin, Jiangxi, were contacted over the incident.
"This man is really disgusting," one person wrote online.
"The quality of teachers in private kindergartens is worrying," another said.
Posts related to the incident have been viewed more than 170 million times on Weibo.
Kindergarten comments on the incident
The teacher worked at a branch of the pre-school chain RYB Education. The education provider is one of the largest in the nation.
Following internal investigations, the kindergarten released a statement on Tuesday regarding the matter, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.
It said the teacher, an assistant at the school, had asked several children to smell his feet during playtime.
However, it denied any claims of child abuse or indecent behaviour towards the child or other children.
The RYB Kindergarten confirmed the teacher had been sacked as his actions had "seriously violated the daily behavioural norms of teachers in the kindergarten".
The mother of the boy who featured in the teacher's post initially downplayed the incident after she was informed of it by the kindergarten.
However, once she saw the WeChat post, she said she believed her child had been abused.
The kindergarten says it fully supports police investigations and will take appropriate action as a result of its findings. Police have questioned the teacher.
Users on social media questioned the standards of RYB Education following the latest incident to rock the company.
In 2017, it was accused of child abuse in one of its Beijing kindergartens where children were allegedly injected with and fed drugs.
Those allegations were later proven to be false however, one teacher was jailed for 18 months for pricking students with a sewing needle.
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