“The answer is well, I’m not sure I could do it, I think it’s a good thing that they came and apologized. They should have apologized as soon as it was discovered.”
At a press conference held on November 29, Toshihiko Sakurai, director of Sakura Nursery School (Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture), apologized, at a loss for words.
The school’s extreme abuse of one-year-old children (about 20 children enrolled in the school) was discovered. Three female childcare workers in their 30s and 40s allegedly assaulted the children between June and August of this year as a discipline. The details are horrific according to Susono City, 15 problematic behaviors were confirmed.
1・Taking pictures with a smartphone of a crying preschooler in a locker.
2・Hitting a child on the head with a binder to make the child cry.
3・Pulling the preschooler’s legs and hanging him in midair.
4・Pulling the arm of a child who had been notified in advance that he was late and yelling at him, “You’re late!”.
5・They repeatedly said to a child he had put to bed, “He is dying.”
6・They slapped the forehead of a child who did not cry, forcing him to cry.
7. Yelling at the preschooler and pinching his cheeks during lunch.
8. Glaring at the preschooler and forcibly pulling down his pants.
9. Hanging a child in midair and leaving him in a darkened excrement room.
10. They made fun of the preschooler’s appearance and verbally abused him.
11. Forcing another child to touch the buttocks of a child with an infectious disease.
12. Hitting the head of a child who does not eat his/her lunch.
13. Locking a child in a storage room containing toys.
14. Threatening the children with a cutter knife.
15. Hitting the children on the head with a rolled up rag.
No contact with the children.
The meeting held on November 29th to explain the situation to the parents was extremely controversial. Director Sakurai only apologized and gave no concrete explanation. The three nursery school teachers involved also did not show up.
The 30 or so parents who showed up for the briefing, they requested that the three concerned parties be brought to the meeting. However, the director just replied, ‘I can’t even contact one of them,’ and ‘Even if I go (to their homes), they will just refuse me. The parents asked, “What are you protecting? Please explain the reason.”
The city of Susono was aware of the situation immediately after the abuse began. It was in August that the city received a report that “three childcare workers were behaving inappropriately. Five days later, on August 17, Susono City was notified of the incident. Five days later, on August 22nd, the city investigated the abusive behavior and issued instructions to the preschool. However, the assault was not made public until November, more than three months after it was reported.
The city explained, “The report was delayed because we were being careful when it is a case of an abuse,” and apologized. The report was not made to Mayor Yu Murata untilNovember 28th. The school, on the other hand, was trying to hide the abuse from the guardians and parent at the explanatory meeting. In response to questions from parents at the briefing, such as, “Were you trying to hide it?”
However, it soon became clear that the school’s explanation was a lie. The report submitted to the city stated, “Last October, we asked the staff to sign a written pledge not to reveal the series of appropriate actions.” It is also believed that the city was trying to cover up the incident. The school gave an explanation, saying that it was part of an effort to prevent the leakage of information.
The three childcare workers involved have already resigned. The city plans to conduct a special guidance audit of the preschool and is considering filing criminal charges against those involved.
Photo: Kyodo News： Kyodo News, Jiji Press