Canadian secretly filmed allegedly hitting children in Japanese daycare
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 7:12AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 24, 2019 9:10AM EDT
A Canadian teacher has been fired from an unlicensed daycare centre in Japan after a co-worker recently shared videos online he secretly captured with a pen camera that appeared to show the man hitting and roughly handling young children.
Darrell Norris, the American man who made the video recordings, which have been widely published by Japanese national media, said he worked with the Canadian teacher at the Little GEMS International School in the city of Kitakyushu on Japan’s Kyushu Island from March 20, 2018 to March 20, 2019. He said they were there to teach English to pre-school aged children, but the facility also operated as a daycare centre.
Norris said the teacher, whose first name is listed as Jason on a biography that was formerly accessible on the school’s website, but was still visible on cached webpages, had been instructing at the school for at least five years before they started working together.
Norris said, on his first day of work at the Little gems school, he noticed what he considered to be Jason’s “rough” behaviour towards the children.
“He was always forceful with the kids and he had a very low patience,” Norris told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview from Southeast Asia on Tuesday. “He would always grab them and slam them down.
A month later, Norris claimed he witnessed his co-worker pick up a four-year-old girl during her birthday party at the daycare centre and throw her across the room.
“He tossed her. She landed on her back on a bunch of school bags,” he recalled. “I was like ‘This is wrong. This is really wrong.’”
Norris said he told one of the Japanese teachers at the school about the incident and she replied that she would “keep an eye on it.”
As the months went on, Norris said he saw Jason discipline the children using physical violence on a near-daily basis.
“I’ve seen him hit kids. I’ve seen him hit kids in the head with objects. I saw him shove a book in a kid’s mouth until the kid was crying. The kid was less than two years old,” he said. “He would drop bags on the kids’ heads, push them into walls. Push them down on the ground. Drag them on the floor. Kick them. You name it, he did it.”
Norris said he didn’t report Jason’s actions to anyone at the school again because he was told not to intervene when students were being disciplined by other instructors.
“I didn’t do it again because I knew that it was a waste of time and I knew that it was going to get me in trouble because this guy was a revered teacher at the school,” he said.
Instead, Norris said he began to secretly film Jason interacting with the children starting in January. He first tried to use his cellphone to record the videos, but he was scolded for using the device in class.
Norris said he then purchased a “James Bond pen” device on Amazon that looked like a pen with a hidden camera in it.
“While he was doing it, I had to sit there and film it. It was the only way. I couldn’t sit there and try to distract him or try and help the kids. I figured this was the way I was going to try and help them,” he said.
A few days before his final shift at the school on March 20, 2019, Norris said he filmed Jason strike a two-year-old boy on his side and drag him by his shirt to get the child to sit up in class.
The American teacher said he gave that video along with the rest of his footage to a local Japanese news reporter in the hopes the story would be published. He said the reporter brought the videos to ward officials in Kitakyushu who launched an investigation with police, but he was told they didn’t find anything.
Kato, the deputy director of the child care administration division for Kitakyushu City Hall, said in an email to CTVNews.ca the city had recevied an anonymous report about a foreign employee slapping children at an unlicensed daycare facility. He said the city officials investigated and supervised the facility three times in April and May.
In early May, Norris said he had already left Japan and he was frustrated that that he hadn’t heard anything more about the case. He said he decided to take matters into his own hands and publish the video of the young boy being slapped on his Facebook page on May 12.
Since then, the video has been viewed tens of thousands of times and it has received national news coverage in Japan.
Kato said the unlicensed daycare facility and the foreign instructor who was described as a Canadian man in his 40s admitted to investigators that he had slapped the child in the video. The deputy director said the facility ended their contract with the employee following the admission.
Norris and local media said Jason was fired from the school on May 20.
The city said the owner of the school decided to permanently close once classes finish on July 20 because the case had been reported by many newspapers and TVs countrywide in Japan.
In a statement posted on the Little GEMS International School’s website, the facility offered its sincere apology for the inappropriate conduct by one of its former foreign staff members. The school confirmed a worker had been dismissed and asked for forgiveness from the victims and their parents.
The school said this was an isolated incident in Kitakyushu and it doesn’t involve any of its dozens of other locations around the world.
Norris said his friends in the city told him the school was instructed to install CCTV cameras and improve security for the remainder of the school year. He also said the school will be subjected to periodic safety checks over the next month.
Kato said the city will work hard to “prevent the recurrence” of such a case again in Kitakyushu.
As for the Canadian teacher, Norris said he hasn’t heard whether he will face any charges or if he will be deported. He said Jason has a wife and two children who live with him in Japan.
A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada confirmed in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca that they’re aware of media reports concerning the Canadian teacher and they’re ready to provide consular assistance should it be requested.
According to his online biography, Jason taught English in Japan for 15 years and he’s originally from Ontario.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.