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Sapporo education board to appoint specialist advisers to prevent sexual abuse by teachers

This file photo shows the building housing the Sapporo Municipal Board of Education. (Mainichi/Nozomi Gemma)

SAPPORO -- The Sapporo Municipal Board of Education said June 3 it intends to appoint lawyers and other specialists as advisers to the education board in order to prevent sexual violence by teachers and school staff.

    The move comes in connection with the disciplinary dismissal of a male teacher at a municipal junior high school in Hokkaido's prefectural capital of Sapporo, who is suspected to have performed indecent acts toward a student 29 years ago.

    In 2016, the city carried out an investigation following a request by the alleged female victim, but was not able to establish the facts regarding the teacher's indecent behavior. As a result, in March this year, a third-party lawyer looked into the measures taken at the time. A report raised issues such as the lack of training opportunities to cultivate the fact-finding capabilities of employees who were responsible for the investigation back then, and problems in the investigation methods.

    In response to this report and a law enacted in April to prevent sexual violence by teachers and other educational staff, the Sapporo Municipal Government plans to assign two lawyers as well as either a clinical psychologist or a certified psychological specialist as designated advisers to the municipal education board. The specialists will hold training sessions targeting teachers and employees, and give advice on how to take measures for victims. The municipal government is currently asking the Sapporo Bar Association and other bodies to recommend advisers, and plans to implement them in early July.

    As for the alleged female victim's request to have the city hold a press conference, authorities revealed that they are not planning to do so, saying, "We have disclosed the matter to the media, and are continuing to respond to the issue while receiving opinions (from the victim) through documentation."

    (Japanese original by Kohei Shinkai, Hokkaido News Department)

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