• Yomiuri Editorial

Indecent Acts by Childcare Workers: Protect Children from Harm by Using Database on Disciplinary Records

There is no end to incidents in which childcare workers, who are supposed to protect and nurture children, instead commit indecent acts against them. A new system to prevent the recurrence of such despicable crimes must be made to function without fail.

In April, the Children and Families Agency will introduce a database of childcare workers who have a disciplinary history involving indecent acts against children. Daycare centers, local governments and other entities nationwide will be given access to the database, and will be required to inquire whether an applicant has a history of being disciplined when hiring new employees.

After obtaining a national certification, people must register with prefectural governments in order to be employed as childcare workers. If a childcare worker is found to have committed an indecent act, their registration will be revoked. However, there is currently no system for employers to check the disciplinary history of childcare workers, so there has been concern that such workers could be rehired by covering up their disciplinary history.

The database will list the names of childcare workers whose registrations have been revoked and the details of their indecent acts, among other information. To prevent any omission of the checks, information such as one’s original family name will also be recorded, according to the agency.

Sex crimes deeply hurt children physically and psychologically. They are utterly inexcusable acts. It is important to ensure that childcare workers who have such a history are kept out of the childcare field so that they will never again come in contact with children. The creation of the database can be said to have some significance.

However, this alone is not sufficient. In the past, there have been cases in which a childcare worker who committed indecent acts against children at one facility later committed sex crimes again at another facility. Failure to properly revoke the childcare worker’s registration in the first incident can lead to the next one.

If their registration is not revoked, their information will not even be recorded in the database. Each prefectural government needs to closely exchange information with daycare centers to ensure that offenders’ registrations are revoked.

In addition, the new database will not allow inquiries into the disciplinary records of childcare workers who are already employed. This is said to be in consideration of their privacy, but the possibility cannot be denied that there are childcare workers working in various locations who are concealing their disciplinary records.

There was also an incident of sexual assault by a babysitter who was hired via an internet website. It will be a problem if a company operating a site has no employment relationship with a babysitter, it cannot inquire about their disciplinary history in the database.

After the database is operational, it will be necessary to consider reviewing the system, while monitoring the situation. The most important thing is to protect children from harm. It is vital not to forget that.

It is also essential to consider how to prevent not only the recurrence of sex crimes, but also first-time offenses. One idea would be to install security cameras in daycare centers. Hopefully the central and local governments will consider subsidies for this purpose, among other measures.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 9, 2024)