Japan Today

More bullying victims turning to police to file criminal charges


Police have been called in to take action in 11 cases of bullying nationwide in the past month, according to the National Police Agency.

The filing of criminal charges by bullying victims is believed to be the result of a high-profile case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in which three bullies were blamed for the suicide of a 13-year-old boy last October. More victims have started to speak out against their tormentors now that bullying has become a national talking point.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that in the past month, police were consulted on bullying that included victims suffering broken bones and cases in which photos and video of acts of violence were posted online.

In the most recent case, a junior high school boy in Tokyo filed criminal charges against his classmates after he sustained broken ribs in a bullying incident. In other cases, a high school boy in Sendai sustained 20 cigarette burns to his arms, and a junior high school boy reportedly took a video of himself bullying a primary school boy in Hyogo and uploaded it to the Internet. The video was viewed around 180,000 times, NHK reported.

Last month, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced plans to conduct a nationwide survey of all public elementary and junior high schools in an attempt to ascertain the prevalence and nature of bullying in the nation’s public schools.

On Aug 2, the ministry also launched a taskforce dedicated to supporting schools as part of its drive to stamp out bullying.

The taskforce consists of staff from departments currently dealing with bullying, national educational policy researchers and experts from the National Police Agency.

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On the surface, this sounds like it might be a good idea. On the other hand, I can imagine how this could backfire.

What if more and more people report these incidents to the cops, but the J-police, in all their wisdom, fail to prosecute the majority of them due to lack of evidence? I mean sure, the poor kids have got bruises and broken bones, etc, but unless they've got proof it was done by a certain person, they won't do much. Even if they bring the kids in, the kids will just deny it, and the cops will believe them.

Likewise with any half-hearted lip service the government does.

This will send a message to bullies everywhere: Do whatever you want, as they'll be no consequences.

When people stop fearing the police and any negative repercussions, bad things can happen.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

I don't think it can backfire, but like anything, it can be abused - with kids making up accusations.

But let's not assume the worst. I really hope this makes a difference to some children's lives, and prevents more suicides.

I was going to write, "It's a start, though", except that it isn't a start is it, it's the next step.

But it's a good step, it's a very good change in the victim's approach to bullying though.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Bullying which are congruent (identical) to criminal assault should be handled by police.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This is good news. With the public pressure, the police can't ignore these requests any more.


Most of these bullies are just that, bullies. They only mess with those that won't fight back. They and their parents will get scared once they know the cops are involved even if there is not enough evidence to prosecute them. They are not real tough guys.

All three bullies at Otsu Jr high school already transferred to another school after everyone found out about the boy's suicide for fear of retaliation.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

First we need to stop minimizing what is happening by calling it "bullying". That makes it sound like it's harmless and the kids are just being picked on. This is staight out "Assult' with intention to cause harm. Then maybe the authorities can open their eyes and see that these are real crimes. The police and schools need to take a more proactive and assertive position. I'm glad to see the victims are finally starting to speak up.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Sadly bullying can leave emotional wounds long after the physical wounds have healed. A better comprehensive program bullying program needs to be developed to reduce and prevent bullying among the students. Hence such a program should be monitored at the school, classroom and individual levels with some sort of reward structure that could be implemented. No matter what bullying is a complex social problem that hits hard on any parent confronted with this issue. On top of that the whole family relationship is strained but more important how a parent reacts to it can make it worst or can make it better.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's good in as much as the victims are taking action, but there has to be other channels to go though first as it is more than a police matter. Parents and teachers need to be the first that notice bullying, and also the useless PTA needs to step up.

Information/evidence needs to be gathered, and then police involvement, if necessary.

My concern is that victims will go straight to the police, no matter how serious the bullying is, much the same as how people call an ambulance for a cold or fever.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

20 cigarette burns?! Broken ribs?! These aren't "bullying" cases, they're assault, plain and simple. Arrest the criminals and sentence them to hard labour.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is a reflection on the low confidence the victims or their parents have in the teachers and principals to deal with the problem correctly. It's good that the schools get the police turning up on their doorsteps; it means they cannot ignore the problem. Let justice be served.

I hope the survey by the Ministry works, but if schools have covered up or ignored bullying in the past, won't they be inclined to do the same when they come to fill in that piece of paper?

So they need to be told there is a virtue in identifying and revealing bullying, that it is not a slur on their school, and that the only slur on their school is if anti-bullying procedures are not in place and acted upon. Make it a positive thing to identify bullying, not a shame that needs to be covered up.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Well, real assault can have police called. If the cops question the abuser and scare them, easy to do, it could have a positive affect as bullies really want to run and hide when anything bad might happen to them, but but if the abuser gets even a whiff of the cops believing them, or not believing the bullied kid, things could possibly get worse.

Assualt case, cops, fine.

But what is REALLY NEEDED is schools/ teachers/ principals with enough of a backbone to suspend kids for certain acts, and expel kids for others. If they don't make clear disciplinary procedures and don't show will to enforce them, they are co-culprits.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Punish them in front of the public. The society should involve in this social crime....

0 ( +1 / -1 )

These "monster's" really need a stop! As a mother, I don't appreciate my kids or other kids being abuse. They odd to stand up for them self's and fight back. Myself growing up in the Ghetto street's of Compton CA. I was beat 2 twice, that's all it took. I started punching,kicking back to defend myself from these kinds of kids. Never again was I'd bothered again. So now as a mother, you don't want to advice your children to hit, but if they must, they must. With that being said ; No kid should be assaulted physically or verbally.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The goverment need to be very prudently and cautious in this matters. In my opinion, I think right now in 3 aspects:

First, boys must learn to defend theirselves, is a have to for everyone; And must exist the idea that if you fight with courage and honour, even if you lose the fight, you ll gain respect.

Second, indoors, the school can set rules, discipline and can prohibit quarrels, but cant intervene in what happen outside the school.

Third, cops can stop quarrels and even in some cases give soft punishments, like arrest all ones for hours until parents come to take them, but not more. In cases where the life is in risk, could think in other possibilities but always keeping in mind the principle of being moderate and the less intrusive possible.

In the end, if the boys acquire the ability to solve their problems alone, it ll be one million better than if someone else want to solve their problems for them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Miguel, I can appreciate what you are saying. This would be great should it be applied to the children just entering school and are still young and impressionable. The problem is that it's too late for the students already in their teens as the examples in the article shows that it has already escalated into abuse and physical assult. A few days suspension from school or a few hours in the police station and waiting for parents will not be enough for these kids to reflect upon their actions. These so called "bullies" in the news do not appreciate consequences. And it will remain this way until they are forced to accept consequesnces for their choices and their actions. Until then they won't even know how to make proper choices.

That said, educating children of choices and consequences starts at home. It's up to the parents to teach and arm their children with confidence, morals, self respect and the sense of right and wrong. The tricky part is allowing them out in the world to apply it in their everyday life with little interference. That is how they learn to problem solve for themselves. At lease that's what works in my household. But the schools, and when outside the school the police, will have to run interference when other students are being harmed. We cannot forget the victims while spending so much time trying to correct the behavior and aid the offenders. I can't remove the image of the one boys burned arm from the article. The victims rights and saftey should be the priorty. The school authorities will have to figure out a balance of how to deal with both the offenders and the victims to keep school a safe place.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wake up people of Japan. Bullying is NOT best handled by the police. What are they supposed to? Get on their mamacharis And leave the koban everytime some kid is "mean" to another? The responsibility for this lies with the school staff or local board of education. They are the ones present, the ones who actually see what's going on where the kids are. This is typical of Japan - shift the responsibility to someone else and overcomplicate things just to do it.

If anything should be done where police is involved with dealing with bullying, it's making sure there are laws in place that require teachers and principals to deal with this sort of behaviour.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Tairitsuiken, don't try to cloud up the issue. We are not talking about bruised egos and harsh words here. These children were physically tortured. Broken bones, burn injuries inflicted. They are serious crimes that bring prison time to those of adult age everywhere in the world, and nobody thinks differently.

But this level of severity makes the criminal's age unimportant. Their upbringing has failed so completely that no amount of "understanding" is going to stop the degradation. Only fear of severe reprecussions can keep these vicious animals in societal behaviour. They need to be taught lessons before they are handed death sentences when they do continue their behaviour as adults. Indeed the best way to confront bullies is to beat them back hard and never stop.

Teachers cannot be trusted. They'd rather throw children to the wolves like they were done at, and since J-cops have nothing better to do (I know they should have, but these are J-cops), they should earn their food. I say jail time to torturers. They already ruined their own future with their emotionless sociopathic life, no need to ruin the futures of their victims as well. Anyway, bullies can't actually feel anything, so why pat their heads?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A survey? Yep, that should do the trick.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Clouding up the issue. You're the one doing that with your "beat them back hard and never stop" idea of justice. If you knew anything about psychology, you'd understand that bullies might be troubled kids and that relegation, punishment and talk of death penalty (love that you managed to squeeze that into this discussion!) do not neccessarily make these bullies into future, productive adults. I would agree that police should be brought in when we talk about abuse but we both know that is not what will happen. Instead, people will start calling the police whenever something, however small, happens.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

As Maria said this is a step in the right direction. Raising awareness, reporting the incidents, and going to the press when the school won't take appropriate action are all steps forward. Citizens need to complain more. How does the saying go "the only thing needed for evil to succeed it that good people do nothing." Of course the next step is to have schools implement a zero tolerance policy on bullying. Expulsion should be mandatory. Students should be encouraged to report bullies and teachers need to do a better job in regards to preventing bullying.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


"death penalty do not neccessarily make these bullies into future, productive adults"

Why don't we worry about kids who are being bullied first, before we worry about bullies' future ?

"we both know that is not what will happen. Instead, people will start calling the police whenever something, however small, happens."

No, you don't know that, it's only your guess. And even if that happens, it's still better than letting a bullied kid commit suicide like it happened in Otsu.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I wonder if they're going to address ALL bullying in the schools? That includes staff bullying the students. Bullying can range from verbal harassment all the way up to actual battery - with the latter also being a criminal offense. Staff as well as students should be investigated when they bully.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Many posters have mentioned that contacting the police seems like a waste of police time and will begin to be abused, which may be true. But the alternative is continuing to report it to the school faculty or parents, which as we've noticed doesn't seem to ever get any results, even results in school cover ups wear people probably never really know the extent of whats happening. So maybe turning to the police is the only way to get an accurate record of the events and make sure it doesn't get brushed under the rug. I think this is a good step in the right direction.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


So you see nothing wrong at all with putting bullies and capital punishment in the same discussion?

It goes without saying that victims of bullying should get the very best and swift help they can. Bullying should be recognized by the people working with these kids. Problem is, if you just throw bullies to the wolves, without checking up on them, they might turn into even worse adults...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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