TOKYO ( Associated Press) — Police in Japan have arrested three teachers at a central daycare center suspected of hitting children on the head, turning them upside down or locking them in bathrooms, sparking outrage and accusations of a cover-up. ,
Shizuoka prefectural police said they arrested three women on Sunday suspected of attacking at least three young children in June at a kindergarten in the city of Susono at the foot of Mount Fuji.
Susono Mayor Harukaze Murata told reporters on Monday that he has also filed a criminal complaint against school principal Toshihiko Sakurai for allegedly covering up abuse and urged police to expand their investigation.
A teacher is accused of holding a child upside down. According to the police, another pushed a girl in the face and the third slapped another boy on the head.
Their arrests came after police searched the private school on Saturday in response to the city’s disclosure last week of 15 cases of alleged abuse between June and August.
The results of an internal investigation revealed that the three teachers regularly assaulted the children by slapping them, making them cry, threatening them with knives, calling them “ugly” and “fat”, locking them inside bathrooms or storage rooms. done. to the city.
The mayor accused the school’s principal of hiding the problem from other teachers and delaying the explanation to parents by signing the necessary paper.
All three teachers reportedly told investigators that their treatment of the children was “discipline”, while the principal said that the documents he asked the teachers to sign were to protect privacy. Abuses.
The city has faced public criticism for not taking up the matter in the more than three months since a whistleblower first disclosed the cases in mid-August. Murata said he took the criticism seriously and would accept a two-month pay cut, as well as punish three top executives.
Experts say daycare teachers are underpaid and schools face chronic staff shortages and difficult work environments.