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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Perhaps it is safer to say that 40% more teachers are getting caught, these days, than in 1999.

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