- (C) Pakutaso / (C) The Mainichi Newspapers
- abuse / abuse of authority / Aomori Prefecture / complaint / corporal punishment / discipline / Education / educational system / fine / Japanese schools / junior high school / Middle School / pay cut / penalty / Sannohe District / school rules / slapping / spitting
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The behavior of Japanese middle and high school teachers has come under fire in recent years, especially in terms of what many see as excessive discipline, inappropriate behavior, and corporal punishment. For example, in an article we published November 1, we covered the story of a high school girl who sued a school in Osaka for forcing her to dye her naturally brown hair, bruising her scalp and causing her emotional damage.
School sports clubs, in particular, seem to be disproportionately affected by such problems. For example, in the same article, we also introduced comments from a Twitter user who resented that she was forced to put up with the cold during winter and prohibited by her teacher from wearing warm leg wear. There is a popular belief, still in place in many Japanese schools, that toughening kids is the best way to prepare them for adult life. However, sometimes teachers implement this principle too far.
However, the latest incident reported this morning in the Mainichi Shimbun is surprising not only for the nature of the corporal punishment inflicted by the teacher, but also for the penalty the teacher was given by the school in response.
On January 10, the Education Board of Aomori Prefecture announced that a 46-year-old male teacher employed at a middle school in the Sannohe District had received a 10% pay cut as a penalty for having carried out corporal punishment on students under his supervision in the school's sports club.
From August 2015 to March 2016, the teacher carried out corporal punishment on four students, spitting on their faces a total of 80 times (90 times by other accounts), and slapping one student's face a total of 50 times during the 18 month period. When questioned about his actions, the teacher apparently explained he did it "to narrow the distance" between himself and his pupils, and that he slapped that one student "because he was upset."
While opinions may differ all over the world when it comes to the effectiveness of corporal punishment in schools, one thing we can be certain of is that this teacher has a very peculiar understanding of what it means to "narrow the distance" between teachers and students. Spitting on one's hand before a handshake is one thing, but spitting on someone's face creates more distance in every human community of the world. This is even true in the animal kingdom, as llamas seem to know.