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School girl claims bullying over omission from group photo, other incidents

FUKUOKA -- A 12-year-old girl here who fell ill and was hospitalized owing to bullying has claimed that her teacher failed to chide her classmates after they cut out her face from group photos, it has been learned.

    The sixth grade elementary school student claims that she has been the victim of bullying since the third grade -- prompting the Fukuoka Board of Education to set up an independent panel of experts, which will initiate a probe into the matter on Nov. 22.

    According to the girl's parents, her face was cut out from photos of a dozen or so classmates taken in the third semester of the fourth grade by classmates, and she herself was also forced to cut her face out of the photos. The parents have added that the girl was made to take several photos -- without her face in it -- home.

    A document submitted this month by the girl and her representatives ahead of the independent probe states, "The teacher made her take the photos home, while laughing it off as a 'joke,' and failed to reprimand the other children despite knowing that they were to blame." Meanwhile, a division within the board of education that oversees student guidance said, "We are currently confirming the facts."

    The girl has not been able to attend school since being hospitalized in late September, and she has also been diagnosed with an adjustment disorder.

    In October, a committee within the school that aims to prevent bullying certified four counts of bullying against the girl including the insertion of a memo saying "Die" into her belongings. However, her parents are critical of the investigation, stating, "Only a fraction of the bullying has been investigated. There were numerous other terrible incidents."

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