An investigation is underway following allegations of child abuse at a Faro crèche, where children as young as six months are looked after.
Two employees have been suspended and the Cáritas catholic organisation, part of the Algarve Diocese which runs the ‘O Despertar’ nursery, said it presented a criminal complaint to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in July when it first learned of the allegations.
The cases of violence are believed to have happened throughout the last school year.
Parents became suspicious when their children started coming home with bruises and other signs of abuse.
“My seven-month-old son would come home with marks (of violence), but I thought it was normal at first because babies sometimes hurt each other,” Cátia Marçalo, mother of one of the crèche’s babies, told Correio da Manhã tabloid.
“I only became suspicious when I noticed that he had marks that seemed to be from nails on his neck, and others on his face that looked like they belonged to an adult,” she added.
She removed her child from the centre after being told by employees that her worries were “all in her head” and that her son was actually “privileged”, as she was an employee of the institution that runs the crèche.
Karen Castro, another worried mother, also took her 21-month-old son out of the crèche after witnessing a case of abuse by another worker who reportedly still works at the nursery.
Meantime, Miguel Neto from the Algarve Diocese has confirmed that two workers have been suspended and that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating.
He added that Cáritas is doing everything it can to guarantee “the absolute safety and well-being of all babies and children at the crèche”.