Bullying has become a major concern in Japan over the last few years. As even elementary school students increasingly communicate and connect with their peers through technology, evidence of these instances of child-on-child cruelty is often stored electronically. Unlike in previous generations, bullies today don’t have the option of simply denying any wrongdoing took place once a victim comes forward with records documenting the incident.
Of course, there’s still the need to track down the evidence in the first place. This depressing yet necessary task often falls to Hirotaka Abe, a private investigator who specializes in helping parents when their child is victimized by hateful peers.
Even if teachers notice a problem developing between their pupils, they’re often hesitant to get involved with issues that lie outside strict education, Abe explains. This ineffectuality of schools in dealing with bullying has led to the development of a subsection of the private investigation industry that specializes in handling such incidents.
“I used to be a pretty bad kid when I was that age,” Abe says, referring to the elementary to high school-age students he deals with in his line of work. Even he, though, is astonished by some of the things he finds minors today have done to each other. “Some of it goes beyond what you could classify as bullying, and moves into outright crime.”
Among the atrocities Abe has come across are children being the targets of repeated physical violence by classmates, extortion of amounts totaling as much as one million yen, and high school girls being coerced into "enjo kosai," a term translating as “compensated companionship,” running from basic escort services to prostitution.
Most appalling of all, though, are Abe’s accounts of minors being raped by multiple assailants. Abe, who says he has been involved in the investigation of over 20 rapes, describes one scenario under which the crime can occur.
A girl, perhaps because of her quiet or seemingly weak demeanor, gets noticed by a group of bullies as an easy target. She is approached by one of her classmates, usually another girl, with an invitation to hang out at the home of a boy who goes to the same school, perhaps an upperclassman. When the two arrive at the house in question, a group of attackers is lying in wait, who proceed to sexually assault the girl once she is inside.
Once the victim’s parents contact Abe, the first step of his investigation process is gathering evidence of the attack. Abe makes the rounds of the homes of the assailants, some of which he says have been as young as early elementary school students. In the case of group rape, those involved often choose to record a video of the attack on their cell phone, to keep as a grotesque trophy. The crux of Abe’s investigation is collecting these digital records.
Once this is done, Abe turns the evidence over to the victim’s guardians, who can then discuss what legal actions to pursue moving forward. Not being a lawyer, this ostensibly is the end of Abe’s role in the matter, although he realizes the hateful acts he sees will continue to have consequences for years to come.
“Even when my investigation is closed, I can’t say the situation has been resolved. The emotional scars of the victims don’t heal that easily.”
Source: Yahoo! Japan News
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