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Teacher reprimanded for taking fingerprints of 6th grade class

26 Comments

An elementary school teacher in Tachikawa, Tokyo, faces disciplinary action after it was learned that he had taken the fingerprints of every child in his sixth grade class.

The Board of Education said in a statement: "This behavior infringes upon the civil liberties of the children of this school."

According to members of the school board, the teacher, a man in his 30s, heard that one of the girls' shoes had been filled with sharp thumb tacks on May 11, Fuji TV reported. Two days later, the teacher questioned the 37 students and during questioning, ordered them to place their fingers on a piece of paper so he could get their prints.

Following the incident, the school received a number of complaints from the parents of children in the class, prompting the school to question the teacher. The board said the teacher has admitted to fingerprinting the children in an effort to discourage acts of bullying in the class.

The board said it will punish the teacher and met with parents of the children on Sunday to explain the situation.

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26 Comments
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So the board would rather have a little girl have thumbtacks stuck into her feet than scare some kids into being honest and own up by taking their fingerprints?

Because that's what this teacher was doing. He almost certainly wasn't trying to match the kids fingerprints to the partial and distorted prints off the tiny thumbtacks (and if he was serious all he deserves is a smack upside the head for being stoopid).

Obviously they're rather he'd yelled at the entire class for 60 minutes like most Japanese teachers do until all the kids are reduced to tears... yeah, clearly that's a MUCH better way to handle the situation - rather than fingerprinting them, which wouldn't worry the innocent kids, but would have the bullies filling their pants in terror at the prospect of being caught out.

This wasn't real fingerprinting - it was acting out the procedure for fingerprinting in order to make the evil little bullies fear the same level of fear as their victim.

I salute this teacher for their innovative and sensible approach, and for taking action against bullying.

... and here's the REALLY important question. Did the teacher catch the bullies? Did the Tachikawa board of education do ANYTHING to punish the bullies, or are they just interested in punishing teachers who try to stop bullying?

If I was the parents of the bullied kid I'd sent the Tachikawa board of education and official letter of reprimand for their encouraging bullies by protecting them.

20 ( +22 / -4 )

but there are a LOT of teachers these days cropping up and doing things they unilaterally thing is appropriate when teaching

Showing initiative. We can't have that, can we?

10 ( +13 / -3 )

smithinjapanMay. 17, 2015 - 05:29PM JST Frungy: What the teacher did was unethical, plain and simple.

How? Is it illegal when teachers hand out fake money for the students to play shop? No. This is exactly the same, it was play-acting for an educational purpose.

I agree he's not likely going to start dusting and running comparisons any time someone does something wrong (and even then, what could he do when he found the culprit? there is no system for discipline in place), but you can't just up and decide to do things like this.

Why not? It shows students what will happen to them if they continue to assault people - they'll end up in a police station one day getting fingerprinted for real. The same way that playing shop shows students how to manage their money.

Yelling at kids until they cry, or whatever is deemed 'acceptable', is no good either, but there are a LOT of teachers these days cropping up and doing things they unilaterally thing is appropriate when teaching or taking care of students, with teachers showing ISIS beheadings (and accidentally showing porn!), asking questions about murder on math problems, etc.

Except that the ONLY students who would be upset by being fingerprinted were ones who committed the crime, and the only reasons they'd be upset is that they hadn't confessed earlier. This isn't murder math or porn or beheadings, this was focused, intelligent and served an educational objective.

Besides, again, while I doubt the teacher meant any harm by it, who's to say that he might not have actually used the fingerprints for ill will in the future? Unlikely, but it ultimately still relates to identity and privacy being taken.

... you do know that fingerprints change over time, and kids fingerprints change quite rapidly, and those fingerprints wouldn't be useable for anything in a couple of years, right? There is no identity and privacy risk here "in the future".

4 ( +7 / -3 )

smithinjapanMay. 17, 2015 - 09:03PM JST

Frungy: "How? Is it illegal when teachers hand out fake money for the students to play shop? No."

It is if it is photocopied or scanned and printed from real currency it is, yes. So so much for THAT defense!

Actually, not. Go into a school library and a lot of them will have a wall poster with bills printed to real sizes with the security features highlighted.

It is NOT exactly the same at all! It was intimidation and bullying, and I don't believe people can force you to surrender your fingerprints unless they are police.

No, it wasn't, and here's why.

It wasn't a real fingerprint, nor was it taken for the purposes of matching it to the thumbtacks. As I've already pointed out the small size and curved surface of the thumbtacks would make this a useless approach. Therefore it isn't illegal, in the same way that currency printed for educational purposes isn't forgery, and biting the head off your sister's Barbie isn't murder.

The other reason is that the ONLY people who would have felt bullied or intimidated by having their fingerprints taken were the bullies, and by that logic the police are guilty of bullying and intimidation every time they take fingerprints.

"It shows students what will happen to them if they continue to assault people - they'll end up in a police station one day getting fingerprinted for real. The same way that playing shop shows students how to manage their money."

No, it shows them that abuse of power is wrong, and you know how they will learn that? when they walk in the class and see that there is a new teacher. And the TEACHER himself is going to learn that you cannot do what he did. How you can compare that to a lesson using fake money -- and again it IS illegal to copy real currency, bud -- in a class lesson is beyond me, and completely ridiculous.

You really have staked your entire argument on the copied currency thing. Tell you what, go down to the bank with a foreign note (you might have one, otherwise get one from a friend) and ask the forex person to change it. They'll pull out a HUGE book full of printed copies of every currency in the world, including yen from various periods. Now call the cops and see who the cops will take down the police station for a little chat, the person at the forex counter with the book full of high-quality colour copies of real currency - or you, the person who just wasted their time because they don't understand that there are plenty of circumstances under which you can make copies of currency.

Next you'll be saying a lesson for girls to hand over their underpants if they show up with skirts that are too short would be 'an example of what they might experience if they dress to flashy in the real world!' would be acceptable as a 'lesson'. How about a teacher who makes a noose and asks kids who dye their hair or otherwise do things against school policy be asked to put it on because that might be something they are headed for in the future? Would that be okay with you? Same logic.

Completely different logic, and completely disgusting examples from someone who apparently things that these would be appropriate lessons.

Frightening little potential criminals by showing them how they might be caught is educational. Teaching girls they shouldn't wear short dresses? Were you born in the dark ages?

"Except that the ONLY students who would be upset by being fingerprinted were ones who committed the crime,"

No, anyone who does not want their fingerprints taken would be upset, as it is a violation of their rights

Bull.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

the school received a number of complaints from the parents of children in the class

probably all concerned that the child they dote over was guilty...

shoes had been filled with sharp thumb tacks

of a pretty depraved act.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Very resourceful teacher. I would do same with my boys.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Total BS from the school, they totally missed the point they punish the teacher instead of the students that were bulling. No wonder the student bully because they learn it from the school admin!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Was he just trying to scare the kids into behaving or was he actually serious about becoming an amateur forensic fingerprint examiner?

I know there's a privacy issue either way, but his intentions seem very relevant to me. He is either a creative and resourceful teacher or a complete nutcase.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This wasn't real fingerprinting - it was acting out the procedure for fingerprinting in order to make the evil little bullies fear the same level of fear as their victim.

I agree with your impression.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So moderator in your divine wisdom youve cleansed this thread of off topic. But japangirls DNA testing still stands. How is dna testing on topic. Your judgements are pathetic.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

And the story will continue. DNA testing

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These childrens civil liberties have been violated. So what do you call all foreign nationals having there compulsory finger prints scaned when entering japan!?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember back in the days when teachers ran the classroom and parents were always on the teacher's side. Now it seems those kids have grown up and are getting revenge on all teachers for doing them wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Parent with self-centred attitudes would be the one,s protesting. Saying the same old retort. "not my little Johnny". He would never do that. So why punish my Johnny. Even if little Johnny is innocent. Little Johnny know who did it. Yes the teacher over step the mark. I myself would of stop the children in the class from any playtime. Allow them to still have their lunch in class. If they want to go to the toilet they will be accompanied by the teachers pet. I would do this for a week or until someone come forward. Yelling does not work. the Bully would be subject to being yell at by their bully Parents. No, sooner or latter a pupil would come forward naming the bully. I would continue the class punishment as a reminder that if you know who did the act to report it. You can not allow bullies to ply the trade. You work with the tools at hand. You do not introduce your own rule this is exactly what bullies do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Besides, again, while I doubt the teacher meant any harm by it, who's to say that he might not have actually used the fingerprints for ill will in the future? Unlikely, but it ultimately still relates to identity and privacy being taken.

How exactly do you think the teacher could possibly use the children's fingerprints for ill will in the future? Is he going to go all spy movie and make fake fingerprints for himself from the children's and then go out and commit crime with the aim to set them up for the crime? Get real.

This teacher shouldn't be reprimanded, but commended for trying to actually do something about bullying instead of turning a blind eye to it like so many other teachers here do. I'm sure these impossible to please parents would be up in arms if the child who was being bullied decided to commit suicide as a result of it, complaining that the teacher could have prevented it but didn't.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"This behavior infringes upon the civil liberties of the children of this school."

Does this mean my civil liberties are infringed every time I pass through Japanese immigration?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

School logic: Everything to make parents happy!

Ebisen: Really? I'm also from the EU!! I don't share your PoV! As I see it, nowadays most students have no concept of respect neither for themselves nor for their elders. They don't fear punishments because most students know that if they cry to mommy, mommy will run to school and all hell will break loose. Also, mommy and daddy will threaten the teacher in front of kid, which makes kid feel powerful..

Then, we wonder why the crime rate is increasing. When kid hits 18 and ends up in jail, the parents blame the education system..

I've experienced this both as a student and as a teacher. I hope you will never experience being humiliated by students in your class who openly tell you that you have no rights as a teacher. Why do you think teachers are scared to be alone with students?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm with the teacher on this one.

Except that the ONLY students who would be upset by being fingerprinted were ones who committed the crime

While Frungy is right that considering the kids' age, the only students that are likely to be feeling the heat are those who are responsible, this is nevertheless a risky attitude. The "If you didn't do it, you have nothing to fear" rationale also extends to more general surveillance topics, and should not pass unchallenged.

Having said that, it is inevitable that ANY investigation of crime involves some violation of privacy. Bag searches and questioning always force the interrogated into at least a mildly uncomfortable position where he reveals things he likely would have preferred to keep private. Nevertheless, they are considered necessary, especially when the number of suspects is narrowed to a reasonable number - say within one class of 30. Compared to any general surveillance plan, such measures are highly defensible.

If you don't want any invasion of privacy, you have to accept that any crime that's not caught right on-site will go uninvestigated and thus unsolved.

As for whether this is illegal, I must doubt very much there is a specific law against fingerprinting, so any violation will likely be a more indirect one involving the right to privacy. However, a teacher is expected to maintain discipline in his class and for that it is generally agreed he is allowed some authority to investigate and punish, so even if there is a clause, it can be blocked using Article 35 of the Criminal Code, which says crimes either specifically permitted by law or committed in the course of duties should not be punished (that's why a surgeon can cut someone without being convicted, and why a budoka that inflicts a reasonable amount of damage to another in a mock fight can get off).

For whether this is ethical, if your beef is that its the teacher rather than the police that's doing it, that's just off target. Both are doing it for two possible purposes - investigation and/or deterrence (in effect intimidation). While legally it may be that the police are specifically empowered to do this, on an ethical front, you can't say the ethicalness of an action changes between a teacher and a police. If anything, the negatives of this action are much more likely to manifest with police who have much larger databases of prints and they are computerized (waiting to be hacked).

Further, as a rule the school don't want police to be involved and the police themselves are touchy about involving themselves with schools. So until someone dies, as a practical matter the "police" option is out.

As for the people who advocate collective punishment as an alternative to investigation, I must ask where your ethics went. Collective punishment of the innocent in the hopes of squeezing out an informer is preferable to investigation and specific deterrence?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have my human rights infringed every time I enter Japan despite not having committed any crime! It's ok though as foreigners don't have any rights in a Japan....

Moderator: Not even remotely relevant.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DaDudeMay. 18, 2015 - 12:23AM JST I remember back in the days when teachers ran the classroom and parents were always on the teacher's side. Now it seems those kids have grown up and are getting revenge on all teachers for doing them wrong.

I think its a little more complex. The bullying kids are often from homes where they've been victims of or witnessed bullying - therefore at least one of the parents think it is acceptable behaviour and will come howling into the school to bully the school and teachers into dropping the issue.

The parents of the victim now have a choice. If they're silent the school will often just bow to pressure from the bully's parents. If they support the school's authority then the school will want to deal with the issue as quietly as possible to avoid negative media attention - often too quietly. As a result parents who really care about their children are forced to make a big fuss to avoid the bully's parents and the school sweeping the issue under the rug.

... and there are really no winners. But that's the current situation.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Your judgements are pathetic.

No argument there

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Furgy, come on! This teacher wasn't "playing" cop, he was trying to be one, which is out of his legal authority. I applaud him for trying to take a stance against bullying, but I condemn him on his approach. What would have been better was to have actuall police come into the classroom and question students. That is true legal procedure. That would be the correct way to teach children about the consequences of their wrong doings.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I guess every commenter originating from the United States of Soviet America, Russia and China would agree with the teacher's actions (and to a session of waterboarding, youth imprisonment, police violence and other civil liberties infringements in order to find the culprit). The people from EU would strongly agree with the education board disciplinary measure and would be horrified to learn how were these children treated. I'm from EU...

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

One could quite easily determine bullying as intimidation, which is exactly what this teacher has done. Too right he should be reprimanded!

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

albaleo: "Showing initiative. We can't have that, can we?"

Not when they are committing crimes and/or bullying themselves, no.

Frungy: "How? Is it illegal when teachers hand out fake money for the students to play shop? No."

It is if it is photocopied or scanned and printed from real currency it is, yes. So so much for THAT defense!

"This is exactly the same, it was play-acting for an educational purpose."

It is NOT exactly the same at all! It was intimidation and bullying, and I don't believe people can force you to surrender your fingerprints unless they are police.

"It shows students what will happen to them if they continue to assault people - they'll end up in a police station one day getting fingerprinted for real. The same way that playing shop shows students how to manage their money."

No, it shows them that abuse of power is wrong, and you know how they will learn that? when they walk in the class and see that there is a new teacher. And the TEACHER himself is going to learn that you cannot do what he did. How you can compare that to a lesson using fake money -- and again it IS illegal to copy real currency, bud -- in a class lesson is beyond me, and completely ridiculous. Next you'll be saying a lesson for girls to hand over their underpants if they show up with skirts that are too short would be 'an example of what they might experience if they dress to flashy in the real world!' would be acceptable as a 'lesson'. How about a teacher who makes a noose and asks kids who dye their hair or otherwise do things against school policy be asked to put it on because that might be something they are headed for in the future? Would that be okay with you? Same logic.

"Except that the ONLY students who would be upset by being fingerprinted were ones who committed the crime,"

No, anyone who does not want their fingerprints taken would be upset, as it is a violation of their rights.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Frungy: What the teacher did was unethical, plain and simple. I agree he's not likely going to start dusting and running comparisons any time someone does something wrong (and even then, what could he do when he found the culprit? there is no system for discipline in place), but you can't just up and decide to do things like this. Yelling at kids until they cry, or whatever is deemed 'acceptable', is no good either, but there are a LOT of teachers these days cropping up and doing things they unilaterally thing is appropriate when teaching or taking care of students, with teachers showing ISIS beheadings (and accidentally showing porn!), asking questions about murder on math problems, etc. Besides, again, while I doubt the teacher meant any harm by it, who's to say that he might not have actually used the fingerprints for ill will in the future? Unlikely, but it ultimately still relates to identity and privacy being taken.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

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