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Kobe school principal hid bullying of young teacher from education board

The Kobe Municipal Government building (Mainichi/Toru Watanabe)

KOBE -- The principal at a local primary school here knew one of his young teachers was being physically bullied by coworkers but failed to report the abuse to the board of education, stating only that there had been some "teasing," the Mainichi Shimbun learned on Oct. 8.

According to the Kobe Municipal Board of Education's school personnel division, three male teachers and one female teacher, all in their 30s and 40s, started verbally abusing their colleague last academic year, calling him "idiot" and "trash," among other insults. In April to June this year, the man in his 20s was also struck on the bottom with the core of a printer paper roll hard enough to leave welts, among other physical attacks.

The bullying was reported to the school vice principal by another teacher in June. The vice principal and principal then confirmed the details including through interviews with the victim. However, they covered up the violence in a report submitted to the education board in July, summarizing the case as "some excessive teasing among the teaching staff."

Both the principal and vice principal were also aware that one of the four teachers involved in the bullying had displayed a pattern of problematic behavior, including using disrespectful and condescending terms of address to senior colleagues. After the bullying of the young teacher was uncovered, the principal reportedly told the education board, "The atmosphere in the staff room is not good, so I would like to improve it."

(Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Kobe Bureau)

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