updated 3/1/2007 8:24:21 PM ET 2007-03-02T01:24:21

A novice teacher in Milan is under criminal investigation for allegedly using scissors to cut the tongue of a second-grader for talking in class, Italian news agencies said Thursday.

The 7-year-old boy, who has not been publicly identified, needed six stitches in his tongue from the Feb. 20 incident, said Piero Porciani, a lawyer for the child’s parents, a Tunisian couple.

The teacher, 22, was being investigated for suspected voluntary harm of the boy, the ANSA news agency said.

The office of Milan prosecutor Marco Ghezzi said he wasn’t there and couldn’t give out any information about an investigation.

Porciani told The Associated Press by telephone from Milan that the teacher has been suspended from the school while the incident is investigated.

Son in pain, mother says
The mother has said in TV interviews that her son is exhibiting a fear of knives in the kitchen after his tongue was cut.

“He’s not eating, he’s not sleeping, he doesn’t want to go school. He cries a lot because of the pain,” Porciani said.

Italian news reports said the teacher, who was assisting the main instructor, repeatedly asked the child to be quiet when her colleague left the classroom briefly.

When the boy continued to talk and move about the classroom, the teacher allegedly told the child she would take scissors to his tongue, then told him to stick out his tongue when he refused to quiet down.

“It’s an absolutely unjustifiable act that calls for zero tolerance,” said Anna Maria Dominici, the school superintendent for Lombardy, the region that includes Milan.

According to Porciani, the teacher, who was not identified, said she didn’t mean to cut the tongue.

Newspapers said the teacher claimed she was only joking by talking about using the scissors.

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