In the last few years I've either developed a very stern demeanor that warns kids away from wanting to attempt to kancho me, or it's fallen out of popularity but the other day I saw the kancho come back in a very inappropriate way.
What is a Kancho?
A kancho is as horrible to an ALT as it is thrilling to a student performing the offensive act. As you can probably guess, I'm really not a fan.
To perform a kancho, the offender puts their hands together, interlocking their fingers with their two forefingers sticking out. The aforementioned digits are then abruptly jammed into an unsuspecting person's buttock, with all intents on hitting the brown bullseye.
Is a Kancho Sexual Harassment?
Yes. Unless it happens to you.
Kids do it to each other and to teachers all the time. Apparently it's a sign of affection. As highly regarded as a new ALT is, expect the anal-finger-jab to happen to you.
I once heard a story of an ALT who upon getting kancho'd, he turned around and kancho'd the child in return. He lost his job the next day.
The other day, I witnessed first-hand, a teacher gently kancho a student. It was a male teacher to a male student in junior high school. I conferred with my ALT colleagues and apparently this is not sexual harassment.
But let me assure you. If you try it, it is sexual harassment, or as it is referred to here, seku-hara / セクハラ. I personally feel like the junior high incident also is crossing the line, but culture and definitions differ nation to nation.
Dealing with Kancho at School
In this case, the best defense is defense. Be super aware. Never let a kid walk behind you. Maintain a perimeter at all times. And never let a kid walk behind you.
If it does happen to you, how you deal with it may influence future potential kanchos. If you do get kancho'd, get serious quickly. Put your angry face on. Speak loudly, clearly, and very sternly. Scold. Start with a very audible "No!" and a pointed finger. Then tell that student never to do it again. Then tell them to go away. Saying all this is English is fine. The message will convey.
What you don't want to do, but what every fiber of your being will be telling you to do in those first few moments after the spine jerking jab, is assault the child. If you can, catch their wrist. Gently. Do not whirl around with backhand whistling through the air. Knock a child off their feet is not a good way to remain employed and in good standing in any school environment.
Kanchos suck. But they're a part of Asian culture (yeah, not just Japan) and that's what we're here to experience... right?