Daily Ymiuri, October 24, 2000
Big jump seen in indecent acts by teachers
By Yomiuri Shimbun
The number of public school teachers disciplined for indecent behavior toward students, including those who were dismissed or suspended from duty, increased more than fourfold in the 10 years up to fiscal 1998, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.
According to the results of an Education Ministry survey, the total number of public school teachers disciplined for any reason increased by 50 percent during the decade.
The ministry plans to use the survey results as a guide in drafting a bill to revise existing laws concerning the treatment of public school teachers deemed unsuitable for the profession, ministry officials said.
The nationwide survey questioned teachers of public primary, middle and high schools, as well as those teaching at public schools for disabled students.
According to the results, the total number of public school teachers disciplined for any reason stood at 532 in fiscal 1989, and rose steadily after fiscal 1993 to reach 794 in fiscal 1998, constituting an increase of 50 percent from 10 years earlier.
The results revealed that the biggest increase was in the category of teachers disciplined for indecent behavior toward students, with the figure soaring from 12 in fiscal 1989 to 51 in fiscal 1998. Most of the teachers in this category were either dismissed or suspended from work.
According to observers, the major increase in this category can be attributed to the fact that students are less likely to keep quiet in the face of abuse by teachers and boards of education have become more willing to discipline teachers for unacceptable behavior.
However, some experts have pointed out that the survey results may only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the actual number of teachers behaving in an unacceptable manner at school.
The results showed that of all teachers who received warnings or voluntarily resigned in connection with behavior deemed unacceptable, the largest group or about 1,000, were involved in traffic accidents. Warnings and voluntary resignation do not technically constitute disciplinary punishments.
The second-largest group in this category was teachers who had subjected their students to corporal punishment, followed by those who tried to prevent the Japanese flag from being hoisted or the national anthem from being sung at school ceremonies.
The number of teachers who used corporal punishment on students, but were not officially disciplined by authorities for their actions jumped from 191 in fiscal 1989 to 383 in fiscal 1998.
There were no cases during the period in which a teacher was dismissed for using corporal punishment. In most cases, teachers simply received verbal warnings.
Copyright 2000 The Yomiuri Shimbun