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Teacher bullying culture at Kobe school likely spread to students: education board

A male elementary school teacher who was reportedly bullied by four colleagues is seen with his arms pinned back while being forced to eat spicy curry, in this image provided by individuals connected to the case. (Image partially modified)

KOBE -- The number of bullying incidents among students at a local municipal elementary school, where four educators are accused of bullying their younger colleague, has surged, the local education authority here in western Japan revealed on Oct. 17.

According to the Kobe Municipal Board of Education, there were no reported bullying incidents among students at Higashisuma Elementary School in the 2017 academic year. However, in the 2018 school year, when the bullying of a 25-year-old male teacher by his colleagues began, 13 cases were reported. This academic year, the number of cases has already reached 16 in six months from April to September.

The education board suspects that bullying among the teachers highly likely influenced the children.

Teruo Sumitani, deputy superintendent of education, revealed the fact at a panel meeting of the city assembly, saying, "If relations among educators are strained, it's reflected in the children."

At the meeting, an assembly member pointed out that parents are complaining that a female teacher in her 40s, who bullied her younger colleague, stomped on the feet of three students who forgot to bring their textbooks to class.

In the 2017 academic year, parents accused the same female teacher of inflicting physical punishment on students, but the principal at the time did not report the matter to the education board. The board is investigating the actual situation surrounding physical punishment of students at the school.

(Japanese original by Kimi Sorihashi, Kobe Bureau)

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