• Kyodo

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The education ministry on Friday pushed for stricter enforcement to prevent personal communication via social media between teachers and students, in the wake of some educators being disciplined for sexual misconduct.

The ministry said it would send a notice, the first of its kind, to prefectural education boards the same day also requesting teachers and students avoid holding individual lessons following reports of indecent behavior, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The move comes after some educators were found to have committed sexual misconduct in communications with their victims through social media or text messaging.

The notice stipulates the boards should make clear in their guidelines existing rules prohibiting personal communication between teachers and students.

Schools should also implement their own rules if communication via personal means is necessary for after-school activities, while parents should be notified of those regulations, the notice says.

It adds that classroom windows should not be covered, so as to avoid closed spaces and covert encounters.

A sample resume template, modified to include prior criminal punishments and disciplinary action, was also attached to the notice as a measure to prevent municipalities from hiring potential educators who attempt to hide past dismissals or disciplinary action.

A database system that allows educational establishments to search a 40-year archive of government reports may also be used.

Lawyers, psychiatrists and other experts should be consulted during sexual misconduct investigations and when deciding on disciplinary actions against offending teachers, according to the notice.

In fiscal 2019, 273 teachers at public schools across the country were subject to disciplinary action or a reprimand for sexual misconduct, the second-highest figure on record, according to the ministry.

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