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308 school students in Chiba Pref. felt 'sexual harassment' by teachers: survey

CHIBA -- The prefectural education board here has released survey results showing that 308 students at public schools in Chiba Prefecture felt that their teachers' language or actions constituted "sexual harassment."

According to the survey, conducted by the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education in the 2017 academic year, 153 high school students complained of teachers' sexual harassment, down two from the previous academic year, followed by 85 junior high school students (up nine), 56 elementary school students (down 31), and 14 special needs students (down eight).

Common responses included that students felt discomfort when: teachers came to classrooms that were serving as their changing rooms after physical education class; teachers talked about students' underwear in front of them; they saw teachers touch the bodies of students during club activities; particular teachers talked about sexual topics to them; teachers stared at students' chests and legs during P.E. classes; and teachers commented about the body shapes of students.

The questionnaire also covered teachers, to which 98 responded that they felt that the language and behavior of teachers or students constituted "sexual harassment."

With regard to a survey about corporal punishment, the education board withheld the number of responses by students saying they were subject to or witnessed such punishment, and stated that there were no suspected physical punishment cases found in follow-up surveys by schools. As a rule, the education board withholds the number of responses to questions of whether there were physical punishment cases or witnesses in each year's survey. Over the past three years, there was only one instance, in the 2015 academic year, of suspected physical punishment that was announced after follow-up surveys by schools.

However, there were four guidance measures taken in connection with physical punishment cases last academic year, including a reprimand. None of them was reportedly mentioned in the survey responses.

Among physical punishment cases that became subject to guidance measures were: a teacher slapping the left cheek of a student during a meeting after a practice game with another school's team; and a teacher banging the head of a student with a textbook while the student was taking a nap during class and then throwing chalk at the student's face.

The survey, which was conducted between Dec. 1, 2017, and Jan. 31 this year, covered roughly 496,000 students at 1,165 public elementary, junior high, senior high and special needs schools in the prefecture except for the city of Chiba. Responses were collected from almost all students. Students were asked to write their names on the surveys as a general rule, but anonymity was also permitted.

(Japanese original by Shohei Kato, Chiba Bureau)

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