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Teacher in Japan handed pay cut for ill-treating 13 elementary school students

Joyo Elementary School, where the punished female teacher works, is pictured in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, on Sept. 30, 2021. (Mainichi/Nao Goto)

KOBE -- The Hyogo Prefectural Board of Education on Feb. 22 took disciplinary action against a female teacher who physically punished and ill-treated 13 students, including asking a boy if he was mentally ill when he did not answer a question.

    The education board handed the 43-year-old teacher a 10% pay cut for one month. According to sources familiar with the case, the teacher works in the western Japan city of Himeji at Joyo Elementary School, where physical and verbal abuse has been reported in the past.

    The education board stated that between April 2016 and July 2021, the female teacher repeatedly ill-treated the 13 children, grabbing them by the clothes when they had forgotten to bring things to class and making them stand for about 20 minutes. When she asked one fifth grader why he had forgotten to bring an item and he didn't respond, she asked him, "Do you have a mental illness?" and added, "You'd better go to the hospital right now."

    The teacher was quoted as saying that she had "no awareness of corporal punishment," and that she was reflecting on her actions.

    The Himeji Municipal Board of Education, meanwhile, admonished the school's principal for insufficient oversight.

    A male teacher was previously fired from the school in September 2021 over 34 counts of verbal abuse and physical punishment of six children in a special needs class, including telling a student, "You don't deserve to live. You might as well die." A committee set up to probe the cause of the incidents concluded in a report in December the same year that there were "serious problems" with the school's management and the Himeji city education board for not responding appropriately.

    (Japanese originally by Motohiro Inoue, Kobe Bureau)

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