Fukushima evacuee hurt by teacher’s remark
Education authorities in Niigata City, north of Tokyo, have apologized after learning that a school teacher used a word that can mean “germ” to address a pupil. The boy had evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear accident.
Officials of the city’s education board said on Friday that the 4th grader has not been able to attend his elementary school for more than a week because of what happened.
They say the boy consulted his homeroom teacher several days before the incident. He said his classmates were calling him “kin”, which can mean “germ”.
The teacher has reportedly explained that the students had a habit of adding “kin” to each other’s names, as a way of showing friendliness to their classmates.
He said this also made them sound like “Anakin” Skywalker in the Star Wars movie series and other celebrities.
The teacher said he added the suffix to the students’ names, but he never intended to refer to them as “germs”.
But the officials said the teacher’s use of the term was inconsiderate and hurt the feelings of the pupil, who felt he was being bullied and was seeking help.
They said the teacher will visit the boy and his parents to apologize, and the education board will offer support so he can return to his school.
In a similar recent case, another young evacuee from Fukushima said he was called a “germ” at his school in Yokohama and he thought of killing himself many times.
His parents have criticized school and local education board officials for failing to promptly act on their complaint.
Teacher ‘insulted’ Fukushima boy in latest school bullying case
NIIGATA–In the latest classroom bullying case involving children from Fukushima, a fourth-grader has not attended school for more than a week due to the alleged victimization by a teacher as well as his classmates.
The municipal board of education here is investigating the harassment of the boy who had the derogatory term “germ” added to his name by his classmates, which was then apparently emulated by his teacher.The boy has been absent from his elementary school since his homeroom teacher, who is in his 40s, is alleged to have used the insult on the boy. The teacher has denied the accusation, but other pupils have corroborated the boy’s account.
The school’s principal has admitted that the teacher’s behavior was problematic.
The principal also said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Dec. 2 that the school will provide an opportunity for the teacher to apologize directly to the student and his parents.
The case is the latest to have surfaced of the potentially widespread bullying at their new schools of Fukushima students who fled the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Last month, media reports on a 13-year-old junior high school boy who moved to Yokohama recounted his experiences at his elementary school through his handwritten notes, sparking huge repercussions across the country.
In Tokyo, another Fukushima boy attending junior high school described his ordeal at his elementary school in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun later that month.
The two boys were called “germ” by their classmates, who also harassed them in other ways.
But in the Niigata case, the teacher called the boy by the insulting name in front of other students when he handed his pupil a correspondence notebook on Nov. 22, according to the boy’s mother.
The boy appeared to be devastated by the teacher’s behavior, which compounded the anxiety he already felt when his family was unable to contact his father to make sure he was safe after a powerful quake jolted Fukushima Prefecture earlier that day. His father works in the prefecture.
The following day was a national holiday and the school was closed. The boy has not attended the school since Nov. 24.
The boy’s family moved to Niigata over concerns about radiation in 2011 following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March that year.
According to his mother, some of his classmates began ostracizing him and calling him “germ” when he was in the third grade.
When he entered the fourth grade, some children threw away his stationery and broke his umbrella, and the harassment later escalated.
Although his mother was worried about him, he reassured her, saying, “I have friends who are trying to protect me. I will be OK.”
But he became visibly depressed when he learned of the report about the bullying the boy in Yokohama went through, according to his mother.
“My son must have thought that he is also the victim of severe harassment,” his mother said.
Urged on by his mother, he told his homeroom teacher on Nov. 17 that he, too, was being called “germ” by other children.
Five days later, however, he found that his teacher had joined in the name-calling.
His mother contacted the school to raise the issue. The teacher initially denied the allegation when school officials inquired.
“I have never said such a thing, given that the boy came to me for counseling,” the teacher was quoted by one of the officials as saying.
But the teacher was found to have actually used the insult when other teachers interviewed all the students in the boy’s class on Nov. 29. Some students admitted that they called the boys by an unkind name and that the teacher, too, had done the same.
According to the principal, the homeroom teacher said he wanted to apologize for being insensitive.