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Brunette in Japan claims high school teacher yanked locks while scolding her over hair color

A high school student whose hair is brown due to years of swimming is seen on May 24, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenji Tatsumi)

KOBE -- A 16-year-old high school student has claimed that a teacher yanked her hair while reprimanding her over her brown locks, sources close to the matter have told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    The girl has brown hair due to going to a swimming school from age 3 through middle school. She reported her hair color when entering the Hyogo prefectural high school, in accordance with the school's rules, and was told she did not have to dye her hair black. However, on April 14, a female teacher and another school staffer apparently warned her about her hair color.

    According to the student, she got out her smartphone to try to call her mother so she could explain to the two, but the teacher and staffer grabbed both her hands as if to bind them together. The staff apparently pulled her hair multiple times. The student panicked and lost consciousness. She woke up in an ambulance, but was not taken to a hospital.

    The girl was later diagnosed with anxiety disorder at a psychiatric clinic and was absent from class for around two weeks. She is now back at the school.

    The school carried out a non-anonymous survey following requests from the student's parents. One response read, "The teacher said a lot of stuff in a harsh tone, and was pulling the girl's hair."

    The school principal met with the student's parents in May and apologized, saying the two staff members' actions "were not appropriate guidance." However, the principal said that the teacher concerned had denied the hair-pulling accusation. The vice principal told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We discussed the matter with the girl's guardians and reached a solution. As the case regards an individual student, I cannot comment any further." The prefectural board of education also said it cannot comment on individual cases.

    In recent years, there have been moves across Japan to abolish rules obliging students to submit certificates to prove their wavy or light-colored hair is natural. However, some students and guardians have voiced a desire to keep the certificate system. In this recent case, the student and parents notified the school about her hair verbally.

    The student said she had never received a warning about her hair before, and it seems that the "inappropriate guidance" occurred because information was not properly communicated within the school. The girl commented, "I want to lead a normal high school life. But, I get scared when I walk in the school, thinking, 'What if I bump into that teacher?'"

    (Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, Kobe Bureau)

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