Archive for February 25th, 2011

Sex abuse by teachers up 40% since 1999

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The number of public school teachers punished for sexual behavior with children has jumped by 40 percent in the past decade, and the number sacked for such misconduct has almost doubled, it has been learned.

In the 2009 academic year, 138 teachers were punished for inappropriate sexual contact with their students or minors, including 100 who were dismissed–a sharp jump from the 97 teachers punished (including 56 who were sacked) in the 1999 school year, according to the education ministry.

About 150 schoolteachers have been disciplined each year for the past few years.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry recently conducted a survey on sexual abuse at public primary, middle, high schools and schools for the physically and mentally disabled, in all 47 prefectures and 18 Cabinet ordinance-designated major cities.

Of 138 schoolteachers punished by boards of education for sexually assaulting minors during the 2009 school year, 24 were suspended, nine had their pay cut and five were given written reprimands, according to the survey.

Fifteen other teachers were given punishments not deemed official, including oral reprimands and being urged to retire voluntarily.

Sixty-three victims in the 153 cases in the 2009 school year, or 41.1 percent, were students at schools where the teachers worked, according to the survey.

The abuse including inappropriate touching or contact in 55 cases (35.9 percent), sexual intercourse in 33 cases (21.5 percent), and secretly filming or watching students without their knowledge in 18 cases (11.7 percent).

Fifty-seven of the educators punished in 2009 were middle school teachers, followed by 46 high school teachers and 38 primary school teachers, according to the survey.

Boards of education stumped

Local boards of education have been at a loss trying to stop the scourge of sexual misconduct.

In an effort to prevent sexual abuse by teachers, the Hokkaido Board of Education gave all teachers under its jurisdiction in 2008 a leaflet featuring a resignation letter written by a teacher who had been caught paying for sex with minors.

“I was arrested for paying a girl for sex,” the letter said. “My conduct was reported by the media and caused terrible trouble to my wife and children. Please don’t become the sort of teacher I did.”

The leaflet also warned of the financial consequences of sexual misconduct: A high school teacher in his 40s dismissed in disgrace would “lose 143 million yen in salary and a 28 million yen lump-sum retirement allowance.”

However, the leaflet has not eliminated the problem. In October, a Hokkaido primary school teacher was arrested for paying a 15-year-old high school girl for sex.

Some analysts have cited “the degradation of teachers’ sense of morality” and “growing mental stress placed on teachers by increased work duties” as possible factors behind the increase in sexual abuse cases.

Many board of education officials, however, say there is little they can do because teachers’ misconduct is largely a matter of personal behavior.

Naoki Ogi, a critic on education issues, believes the ministry’s survey has barely scratched the surface of the problem.

“The figures in the survey are only the tip of the iceberg,” Ogi said. “Many teachers are under increasing pressure at work, and many Web sites treat children as sex objects.

“Teachers shouldn’t exchange cell phone messages with their students and other minors because this could eventually develop into an intimate relationship,” Ogi added.

(Feb. 22, 2011)
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Lawyers press for child’s best interest under int’l custody pact

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , |

Wednesday 23rd February, 2011 Japan Today

Japanese lawyers said Tuesday they have urged the government to try to secure children’s best interests if it decides to sign an international convention designed to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing children ‘‘abducted’’ to Japan after their marriages with Japanese nationals fail.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said in a paper submitted to the foreign and justice ministries and the Cabinet Secretariat that Tokyo should guarantee in its domestic law that children should not be returned to their habitual country of residence if they are found to have been abused or subject to violence.

Satoshi Mukai, a JFBA vice president, told a press conference that even though member lawyers are divided over whether Japan should join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, they compiled the paper to influence ongoing discussions at the government task force on the convention.

The treaty, which currently has 84 parties, stipulates rules and procedures for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce.

The government launched the task force comprising senior vice ministers in January to examine whether Tokyo should accede to the treaty. Japan is the only country among the Group of Seven major economies that has not signed the pact and it has been under international pressure to join the treaty.

The report said Japan should stipulate in domestic laws guaranteeing the implementation of the Hague Convention that children’s opinions will be appropriately heard and respected when authorities make a judgment on their return to their habitual country of residence.

The lawyers also said the legislation should make it clear that the Hague Convention is not retroactive, or only applies to wrongful child removals or retentions that occur after its entry into force in Japan and that it exempts parental child abduction cases that occur domestically.

They called on the government to raise public awareness of the Hague Convention and set a three-year preparation period before the treaty takes effect in Japan.

Whether to join The Hague Convention has triggered a heated debate in Japan, where it is customary for mothers to take sole care of children after divorces. It is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.

Some critics in Japan argue that even though the pact says children will not be returned to their habitual country of residence if there is ‘‘a grave risk of physical or psychological harm,’’ past judgments have been made based on ‘‘limited interpretations’’ of the clause.

The JFBA urged the nation’s diplomatic missions abroad to provide necessary assistance to Japanese nationals who are involved in child custody disputes.

Naoki Idei, a member of the JFBA’s working group on The Hague Convention, said many member lawyers are concerned the treaty could endanger Japanese parents and their children who have fled abusive relationships.

As a legal remedy, the lawyers’ group called on the Japanese government to ratify optional protocols of international human rights treaties that enable individuals to file complaints for violations of their rights.

Idei said such a mechanism would help redress the situation of parents and children when a return to a child’s habitual country of residence is ordered under The Hague Convention despite claims of abuse.

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