Stricter registration system vital to prevent recidivism among indecent childcare workers

Indecent acts committed by childcare workers deeply hurt children physically and psychologically. The government should rigorously deal with such cases to put an end to the harm.

Young children have difficulty understanding what happened to them and explaining it to others. Taking advantage of their nature is heinous and absolutely unforgivable.

After childcare workers obtain their national qualification, they are registered with prefectural governments before starting work at nurseries and other such facilities. Under the current system, if childcare workers commit indecent acts or similar incidents, they have their registration revoked and become unable to reregister for two years.

There has been no end to indecent acts among certified childcare workers. From 2003 through 2020, 64 certified childcare workers had their registration revoked. Most of them targeted children at the facilities where they worked.

Under such circumstances, the government plans to tighten the system for certified childcare workers who have been sentenced to at least a prison term without work, extending the period before reregistration to 10 years after the completion of their sentence. The government aims to revise the Child Welfare Law during the ordinary Diet session next year. The nation must immediately make the revision and put the system into practice.

Indecent acts on children have emerged as a problem also at schools, and the law for the prevention of sexual violence by teachers against children was enacted in May. The new system will be in line with this.

The period for the registration to remain revoked will be extended to the maximum 10 years because the Penal Code stipulates that even imprisonment without work or heavier punishment ceases to have effect 10 years after the completion of the sentence. Many parents and guardians, however, likely feel uneasy about those who have committed indecent acts in the past returning as childcare workers.

The government also plans to introduce a system under which a screening panel set up in each prefecture will decide whether childcare workers should be allowed to return to the same line of work when they apply for reregistration. To prevent them from easily reregistering themselves, the government needs to draw up strict screening standards.

There was a case in which a childcare worker who had been sentenced to a prison term for indecent assaults on children at a nursery in the past managed to get a job at a different nursery and committed crimes again. The relevant prefectural government had failed to revoke the person’s registration and was reportedly unaware that the person had been imprisoned for indecent acts.

In order to prevent the hiring of childcare workers who cover up any history of being punished, the government also plans to create a database that will allow each nursery facility to view their records. It is important to keep such records without fail so that nurseries can check the relevant information when hiring people as childcare workers.

It is also necessary to strengthen cooperation and information sharing between prefectural governments and nursery facilities where childcare providers work.

There is also the possibility that childcare workers may become babysitters or staff at after-school facilities by covering up their history of being punished. Steps should be taken to consider measures such as utilizing a database for a wide range of workplaces where there is contact with children.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Dec. 6, 2021.