Corporal punishment continues: Mindset reform is needed

The following article is the English translation by JJAVA of the editorial from the Mainichi Shinbun on September 7, 2017.

Corporal punishment continues: Mindset reform is needed

Corporal punishment by teachers of extra-curricular school sports has become increasingly noticeable once again. The educators need to immediately break away from “teaching” in the form of exercising physical punishment and violence.

At an after-school basketball club in Tokyo and a baseball club in Gifu Prefecture, teachers have made the students run for excessively long periods of time, emphasizing it will physically develop them and strengthen their spirit. As a result, students collapsed with heat stroke. In Nara Prefecture, improper actions by a soccer club teacher, including slapping students’ faces and making them stop soccer balls kicked from point-blank range, were reported.

Under the teaching guidelines by the Ministry of Education and Science regarding after-school sport club activities, hitting and kicking students, or putting relentless and excessive physical/spiritual pressure on a particular student is defined as “improper teaching”.

Violent instruction at after-school club activities have been exposed following the suicide of the basketball club captain of Sakuranomiya High School in Osaka in December 2012, after he had constantly received corporal punishment from the club teacher. An investigation by the Ministry of Education and Science has indicated that there had been 195 incidents of corporal punishment in junior high/high school clubs in 2015. While the number is showing a decreasing trend, about 30% were during club activities. What the statistics show are the incidents admitted by teachers, however, the focus should be on the number of total reported corporal punishments, which must be much larger.

Although local governments and other sports organizations have declared “Eradication of violence” after the Sakuranomiya High School incident, the message does not seem to have penetrated the culture of club activities.

After-school club activities are effective opportunities for children to participate, based on their own decision, to develop themselves by repeated experiences of success and failure. Violence will only create fear against teachers thus devaluing the power of competition. It is essential that teachers and coaches change their mindset.

The Japan Sports Agency has started developing guidelines for school club activities. We hope that teachers who promote children’s self-reliance will increase in number and the reform of teachers will take place through seminars. Psychotherapy program for teachers who rely on violence, or an SNS-based reporting system for children may be established. What we need are specific ways to eradicate violence.

Original editorial


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