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School CP - February 2007

Corpun file 18783

The Yomiuri Shimbun, Tokyo, 3 February 2007

Govt redefines corporal punishment by teachers

The Education, Science and Technology Ministry on Friday released a set of redefined standards for determining what constitutes an act of corporal punishment by a teacher.

The new guidelines cite seven acts that do not constitute acts of corporal punishment. Examples include ordering students out of the classroom if they disrupt lessons by making a lot of noise. Under the old guidelines, such an order had been considered to be an act of physical punishment, according to ministry officials. The revised guidelines will be conveyed to the nation's schools, the officials said.

The new criteria has been designed to better deal with such problems as bullying and school violence.

The School Education Law prohibits teachers from physically punishing students. However, there have been few clearly defined guidelines on corporal punishment, except for those issued in 1948 by the director general of the then justice agency.

Those guidelines cited the forcing of students to leave the classroom for acting out violently toward other students during lessons, and also if they were noisy. For years, teachers have complained that this regulation has made them overly cautious about dealing with troublesome children.

The new guidelines forbid teachers from inflicting corporal punishment, including causing physical pain to students. The guidelines also state that after-school detention for disciplinary reasons does not constitute an act of corporal punishment. The examples included in the new guidelines also cite cases in which teachers assign children additional learning tasks and order them to clean the classroom.

The guidelines allow teachers to order extremely noisy students out of the classroom if faculty members consult with the children in other rooms.

The new standards cite the seven cases as being not regarded as acts of corporal punishment. They also will authorize teachers to temporarily confiscate mobile phones from children when they are being used to send e-mails. The revised criteria also cite an example in which teachers can scold children who wander about the classroom during lessons and force them to sit at their desks.

Concerning cases that do not fit these standards, the new guidelines say it is necessary for teachers to consider the disruptive student's age, physical and mental maturity, and the circumstances before resorting to corporal punishment.

The Yomiuri Shimbun.

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