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Body of missing 6-year-old Toyonaka boy found in pond

21 Comments

Police in Toyonaka, Osaka, said Sunday that the body of a six-year-old boy who has been missing since Feb 28 was found in a pond.

The body of Teita Hikita was found at around 11:20 a.m., NTV reported. A passerby called 110 to report a body floating in the pond.

Police said that the boy had been dead for several days and that there were no external injuries on his body. He was identified by his mother.

Hikita was last seen at around 4:30 p.m. on Feb 28 at a special needs institution. Staff members found the boy's jacket and shoes in a room, and believe that he left in his bare feet. The boy, who lived with his mother and grandmother, did not return home.

The pond is about 60 meters from the institution.

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21 Comments
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And they didn't think to look there as soon as he left?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Such a tragedy. When his disappearance was first reported, I had hoped that he would be found safe and sound in quick order. Alas, it is with a heavy heart that I read this article.

So many questions unanswered. How was a 6 year old special needs child left alone in a room and thus be able to wander off? Undoubtedly an innocent, but negligent, mistake, but this death is something the staff of the institution responsible will now have to bear responsibility for. And where has he been for the last several weeks, if he has only been dead a few days? There is no explanation here.

Such sadness. RIP Teita-kun. Thoughts with his family. I will be giving my young son an extra hug this morning when he wakes up.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is so sad, my heart goes out to the family of this child. RIP.

NOW then, the facility where he attended MUST take official responsibility for his death, even though they did not drown the boy they are responsible for letting him get away. No money can replace this child, but it is criminal neglect on their part for not ensuring the security of the children in their care.

Someone there, or maybe more than one person, should face charges for the neglect!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

NOW then, the facility where he attended MUST take official responsibility for his death, even though they did not drown the boy they are responsible for letting him get away. No money can replace this child, but it is criminal neglect on their part for not ensuring the security of the children in their care.

Well they don't even need a trial do they. You have all the facts and have passed judgement. A trial would be a waste of money.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Horrible tragedy, my heart goes out to the family.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

sensei258Mar. 16, 2015 - 07:48AM JST

And they didn't think to look there as soon as he left?

he had been missing since feb. 28, and from the report he died a few days a go. so they could have searched the pond after he went missing and then he wandered in their afterward.

i wonder how long he was missing before the staff noticed? it's totally unacceptable that they lost track of him and left doors or windows unlocked.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I hope they are talking about "ex staff members" or "ex institution'. At best, they are incompetent. If they can't even keep a 6 yr old inside, don't let them other kids, not even adult patients.

even though they did not drown the boy

Is that even sure ? The investigation is just starting. At this point, "he left in his bare feet." , nobody saw him, he opened the gates or climbed... then maybe the forensic will find that he did all that and fell into the water while asleep.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Right Strangerland. That "special needs" institution must be held accountable while the 6 yr old boy was "in their care." The is gross criminal negligence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Strangerland,

So, to lawyer up would be your first instinct here? Wow.

First and foremost (and pursuant to the Child Welfare Act, as well as established MEXT guidelines and policy regarding the safety and security of children in schools), schools are required to provide a safe and secure learning environment for the children enrolled therein. Add to the mix the significantly higher degree of vigilance and care inherent with special needs education, and the negligence on the part of the school and its complicity in the death of this 6-year-old child becomes abundantly clear.

The only fact that matters is not in dispute: The school admitted it left the child unsupervised for, at minimum, 10 minutes, during which time he disappeared from the school grounds. According to Japanese law, short of the school staff being physically incapacitated, i.e., held at gunpoint in a separate location or dead, thus preventing them from effectively supervising the children in their care, there is virtually no acceptable excuse or rationale for why this boy was left unattended at all, much less for 10 minutes.

No one here has suggested a trial is unnecessary. But some here, myself included, aren’t so befuddled by woefully misplaced “benefit of the doubt” sentiment as to blind ourselves to the inescapable truth here: The staff involved broke the law and now a child is dead because of it.

The school needs to held accountable and policy needs to be revisited to ensure this sort of entirely preventable tragedy does not happen again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What? I never said anything about lawyering up.

I do however think that rushing to judgement from the few facts in an article on a website is premature. That's what trials are for.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@LFRAgain, Its easy to sit back and judge the staff. Yes, they have a duty of care, especially with the special needs kids. But we don't know how many staff, how many kids, etc. And, bottom line, kids wander. He might have seen something beyond the fence, who knows. I challenge you to have a group 6yo kids in plain sight for a 6-8hrs shif straight. Very difficult. The parents and staff members must feel awful. RIP Teita-kun.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hey! Lighten up guys! It's an institution for special needs. It's not a prison!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yet another child dead, seemingly through lack of proper care. So sad, poor boy to end his life this way, and poor parents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Something just seem fishy. Feb even in Osaka is still wintery and even if the child is a special needs one, he wouldn't surely wander very far barefooted all alone. Maybe if it is in the summer I won't have a hard time understanding the news.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sad story.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

boboh,

But we don't know how many staff, how many kids, etc.

But no, we do know how many staff should have been on hand. By law, there is a set student-to-teacher ratio designed to facilitate not only more effective learning, but also to address safety and security concerns. In a regular Japanese public school junior high school, that ratio is 40:1. In elementary school, that ratio drops to 30:1. For special needs students and kindergarten, that ratio drops even further to 10:1. And depending on the degree of the students’ need or disability, that ratio becomes 1:1 even through to the senior high school level.

If the boy who died presented needs qualifying for the latter ratio, then is stands to every application of reason that there was an inexcusable fail at a school designated as a special needs facility. This is all academic, though, because what we do know, regardless of what student:teacher ratio was proscribed, is that there was NO ONE with the boy at the time of his disappearance. And that is a clear violation of the law and MEXT policy, full stop.

My god, that anyone should even be equivocating about this is enough reason to cry. We're talking about a special needs school, one that ostensibly is to provide education, attention, and care that supersedes the barest minimums required of regular public schools (which is already fairly high).

This isn't a case of a child wandering off from a rowdy group of thirty energetic 6-years-olds and the fog-of-war that can sometime accompany such a situation. We're talking about a 6-year-old boy in a specially designated learning facility who, even had he been in a classroom that met 1:1 student:teacher ratio, was left alone for 10 minutes or more by the school's own admission.

I challenge you to have a group 6yo kids in plain sight for a 6-8hrs shift straight.

Done and done. For several years now, in fact. No, it's not easy, but there are policies and guidelines in place that make it entirely doable. After all, it’s not as though modern public school safety policies were a recent development born of a Kickstarter.com campaign last month. They’ve had time to grow and mature over decades. The ratios I mentioned above weren't just picked from a hat. They were chosen to meet basic standards regarding the safety and welfare of the students. There exists a very well-developed body of rules, regulations, and guidelines, all courtesy of MEXT, that makes preserving the safety of students not only entirely possible, but also a de facto reality in classrooms all across the Japanese archipelago.

Now, I challenge you or anyone here to present a plausible explanation for the sort of dereliction of duty that would compel a teacher to leave a 6-year-old special needs student unsupervised for 10 minutes, and in clear violation of school policy and national laws. Take your time. I’ll wait.

The parents and staff members must feel awful.

That’s an understatement of monumental proportion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I still question why this boy was ever left alone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

even though they did not drown the boy

We don't know that for sure yet. As mentioned there is a gap between when he went missing and when he is believed to have died. Anything could have happened during that time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is a sad thing. as for why they didn't find him sooner, well a drowned body will often stay under water until gasses inside the body start to build up due to decomposition thereby lifting the body and causing it to float.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Undoubtedly an innocent, but negligent, mistake

I presume you want to refer like "an honest mistake", or something "non-intentional", however, I don't think it is an "innocent" mistake, these kinds of institutions MUST be prepared for any kind of events like these. To leave a child unattended for 10 minutes is too much.

My sister, who has a 3 year old kid is always present and vigilant of her son, he is very energetic and needs constant attention, he's not special, just a normal kid, still it took two minutes of distraction from his mother for him to climb a chair and taking thyroid pills over a 18 liter water tank. What are the odds? it turns out you cannot leave any child (special or not) unattended for more than 1 minute, and in this case these institution have to be specialized in constant attention, I doubt they are innocent in their mistake.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So, to lawyer up would be your first instinct here? Wow.

In Strangerland's defense, he was responding to Yubaru's post where he had already found the facility guilty of criminal negligence, and Strangerland was pointing out that Yubaru did so based solely on a single newspaper article and without the benefit of a trial. It's good that SOMEBODY was thinking of lawyers, because Yubaru certainly wasn't.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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