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Fukuoka foster care worker suspended for abusing children

FUKUOKA -- A worker at a foster care facility for children who cannot live with their guardians has been suspended from duty for abusing children, facility officials said.

In early November 2018, the male employee at the Fukuoka Ikujiin home in Fukuoka's Higashi Ward stood in front of two elementary school boys who were running in the hallway and, using his arms, held them by the neck to stop them. Later that month when two other elementary school boys got into an argument, the worker punched one of them in the temple, and also slammed the wall. None of the victims in these two cases were injured.

After being alerted by at least one of the victims, bodies including a local child consultation center notified the foster care facility, which in turn interviewed children as well as staff members.

The employee was quoted as telling facility managers, "I stopped the boys (from running in the hallway) because it was dangerous. I had no intention of holding their necks." He admitted to managers that he "became emotional." Facility managers had verbally warned the employee in the past for being too hard on children living there.

Managers at the facility have deemed the employee's action of holding the boys' necks "inappropriate" and judged that hitting one of the victims in the head constituted "psychological and physical abuse." They have submitted a report on the incidents to the municipal government.

The facility suspended the employee from duty for six days from March 1, and slapped the facility head, Tomoko Minohara, with a three-month pay cut.

Minohara was apologetic about the incident. "I'm terribly sorry that this occurred at a facility that is supposed to protect children's safety," she said.

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