The parents of a three-year-old girl who was found at an Oslo day care center with a metal rod stabbed into her eye have asked police to investigate. They say their daughter was bullied at the day care center, and fear other children may have inflicted the injury.
The mother of young Lea Asaad told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that she had delivered her daughter as usual to the Barneslottet barnehage (day care center) at Trosterud in Oslo’s Alna district on Monday morning November 21.
A few hours later, she received a phone call from the leader of the day center who reported that Lea was being rushed to hospital with the 75-centimeter-long sharp metal rod of a rain gauge stuck into her eye.
She’s been in the Oslo University Hospital’s pediatrics intensive care ward ever since, first in a coma and then undergoing several operations. Medical personnel told NRK she will likely have to live with the injuries caused by the stabbing for the rest of her life. Doctors say the child could have been killed, since the metal spike was stuck through her right eye and into her brain. She has lost her sight in the eye and has also gone lame on occasion, indicating brain damage.
None of the personnel at at the day care could tell Lea’s parents what actually happened to Lea, or how the rain gauge rod ended up in her eye. There were no witnesses to the incident, indicating a lack of supervision at the day care center that the City of Oslo is also investigating.
“They don’t know how this happened,” Noor Asaad, Lea’s mother, told NRK. “That’s why the police are investigating the case, because no one was looking after her in the day care center when this occurred.”
The horrific incident came after the three-year-old’s parents already had reported that their child had been slapped and bullied by other children at the day care center. “I had notified the day care center several times that my child had been hit, but nothing happened,” Asaad told NRK.
Personnel at the Barneslottet day care center refused to comment. Questions were being fielded by local city officials in Oslo’s Alna district, who run the center. They have admitted that on the day Lea Asaad was injured, there was no supervision of its playground.
“Our routines call for control of the playground every day,” Alna director Tore Olsen Pran told NRK. “We are sorry that was not done.”
He claimed, though, that the reports of bullying were handled in line with regulations. “I have no basis for saying that other children were involved (in Lea’s injury),” Pran said. “That’s why the police are involved, to check the circumstanes around this incident.”
‘Very serious incident’
Oslo police confirmed their investigation was underway. The City of Oslo has also hired in an external firm to monitor routines at all city-run day centers.
“This is a very serious incident,” Pran said. “We want to learn from it, and are looking more closely at our routines, so help prevent this from happening again.”
Lea’s mother remains distraught. “We were supposed to be enjoying ourselves during this pre-Christmas season,” she told NRK. “Lea wanted to ride the ferris wheel downtown. Now I don’t known when she’ll be able to walk again, or what her future will be like.”
Bullying has been a major issue in Norway for years, and various governments have tried to halt the trend in Norwegian schools. It only recently has emerged that bullying can begin at much earlier ages, also among toddlers in the subsidized day care centers that politicians also routinely encourage parents to use.