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Student who committed suicide was bullied at least 5 times, principal says

24 Comments

The principal of a junior high school in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, whose student committed suicide on April 26 by jumping off an apartment building near his home, admitted to a meeting with parents and guardians on Monday night that five cases of bullying concerning the boy had been reported before the teenager took his life.

In the first parent-teacher briefing held since the 13-year-old boy's death, the principal described in detail an incident of bullying that occurred back in December, Fuji TV reported. In that case, the word “die” was scrawled on the student’s desk with a magic marker.

In another incident in February, the bullied student broke his wrist after tripping over the feet of a classmate.

The principal said he had given guidance to the boy’s classmates when he learned that the boy was being bullied.

One parent said after the meeting, "I felt anger [during the meeting] and couldn’t help wonder why no one disciplined the students who were the bullies. I am still unconvinced that the school did anything to stop the bullying."

Another parent said, "If the school was aware of the bullying and the Board of Education and teachers did something when they first heard about it, perhaps nothing would have happened [to the boy].”

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"the word “die” was scrawled on the student’s desk with a magic marker."

"the bullied student broke his wrist after tripping over the feet of a classmate."

I think these are crimes rather than bullying. Shame the school didn't get the police involved. Poor lad. One of the biggest problems in Japan is every one is responsible for everything which means no one ever takes responsibility for anything.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

bullying is a national past time. Need to deal with the cause or nothing will change.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Bullying is a very emotive subject, some say its character building, some say it part of life, some say its torchere, i suppose its what side your on, I don't support bullying one bit by the way. As for the head, well its partly down to him he has to bare most of the blame here, simply that he did not do a great deal, guidance, well is that going far enough? If he had give these other children a warning shot saying don't do it, and they carry on, well he has to go to plan B and it gets more severer, and if it still carries on, well he should be looking at expiation from the school and hopefully it will send out the message that bullying won't be tolerated. but to terminate your own life, it is the last straw, he must have been very depressed.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The principal said he had given guidance to the boy’s classmates when he learned that the boy was being bullied.

Guidance?  They needed ALOT more than that. 

I felt anger [during the meeting] and couldn’t help wonder why no one disciplined the students who were the bullies. I am still unconvinced that the school did anything to stop the bullying."

You're right.  They didn't.  So criminal charges SHOULD be brought up.  A child took his own life due to the school's negligence.

If the school was aware of the bullying and the Board of Education and teachers did something when they first heard about it, perhaps nothing would have happened [to the boy].”

The skeptic in me doubts that anything would have changed.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I agree with the parents quoted in the article.  I'd call it bullying by proxy, and if were a parent of this poor kid I would sue the bullies, their parents, the principal, the school, and the Board of Education.

RIP, little dude.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Met a girl recently who told me she was bullied as a child from her classmates (even those that she thought were her friends) and teacher. She doesn't know why she was picked out and even though it's been years (she's in her late 20's), she still finds herself reliving those traumatic years on occasion. Her friends told her they couldn't help but participate in the bullying...

Peer pressure to conform? No spine.

She has nightmares and wakes up crying then wondering why she has those nightmares as she doesn't think about those years. I asked her how life got better for her. She decided around the time she was in middle school that she must be strong (not give in to the dark side). Going to a high school that apparently no other classmate went to was a big point.

She totally understands why some students commit suicide and blames the teachers who don't do anything or even worse, participate in the bullying.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The only option (well one option) is zero tolerance. Expel bullies immediately. Stop being soft on bullies.

Hopefully the parents will be pissed by this (their child being expelled) and might actually do something about it. At present their is no deterrent for bullying.

Not legally allowed to expel children from school? So what, make a rule/law and enforce it. Show that you care by actually doing something.... The usual 'lip service' is not doing anything to stop or prevent the problem.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What towing said. Expel the kids, which would also automatically mean they'd wind up attending a lesser school (that'd scare rank-conscious parents straight very quickly). If the bullying was done at a private school, no refunds to the parents when they come to collect their rotten offspring for good.

Also, suspend or terminate the teachers and principals involved, with severe cuts to their pay as well. Blackball them from ever teaching or presiding over a school again.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The only option (well one option) is zero tolerance. Expel bullies immediately.

Extremes are rarely a good solution to anything. Expel any kid who bullies a single time, and you increase the likelihood of a criminal in society. It's simply shifting the problem, rather than dealing with it.

My kid got bullied at the end of the school year last year. It was the first time it happened. The next day, she was refusing to go to school, so I talked with her and got the story out of her. I told her she had to go, and I went there with her. When we got there I said I wanted to talk to someone about bullying, and it turns out that her school actually has staff member whose task that is. I sat down, and told the story. The staff member listened to everything, and agreed it was a problem, then told me she would look into it and call me later that day. A few hours later she called me, and told me that she had sat down with the 'bully', my daughter, and a couple of other girls who were present when it happened. The talked it out, and the girl apologized. Since then, she's not been a problem, and has even invited my daughter to play a couple of times. She's not a bad kid, she just did something stupid. Hands up anyone here who never did something stupid when they were a kid.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

@Strangeland

I am happy you were able to resolve the bullying with your daughter and from your description sounds like it happened just once.

Not all bullying stories are like that and happen from a group rather than single individual over a long period of time and spread to texting and other internet ways. Many end only with suicides, very sadly.

The bullying of today is very different than what was happening decades ago when it was more physical but today is more twisted psychological.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Zero tolerance? because that has no chance of being abused, right?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am happy you were able to resolve the bullying with your daughter and from your description sounds like it happened just once.

No, it was a couple of times over a couple of days. But I got on it right away when I found out there was a problem. That's what needs to happen. Moving right to expulsion as a first response however, was unnecessary.

Not all bullying stories are like that and happen from a group rather than single individual over a long period of time and spread to texting and other internet ways. Many end only with suicides, very sadly.

I agree. It's something that needs to be dealt with right away when it happens (or is found out), and it needs to be called into the open.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

My Ghanaian neighbor told me that when his daughter in elementary school, she was bullied. He went to her school and spoke with her teacher. The bullying continued and he was always there for his daughter; trying to console her, not going to school was not an option (he couldn't afford to send her to an international school) and suggest ways she could overcome her bullies. His wife did nothing. He constantly visited the school to speak with his daughter's teacher and asked the teacher to intervene. It seems her friends did nothing. They didn't protect her. I think his daughter was fortunate that her father is someone she can confide in. The children who choose death rather than one more day among nasty classmates may not be able to bring themselves to tell their parents what is going on. Or if they do have a discussion with their parents, it comes to no fruition.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

couldn’t help wonder why no one disciplined the students who were the bullies.

And there's the problem in a nutshell. There is no punishment in Japanese schools. Discipline comes in the form of intimidation and hollow threats from thuggish teachers, which in itself is bullying. There are only three things important to a teenager - time, money and food. You cannot take their money or their food, but schools need to start taking time from these unruly students. The schools need to set up a detention system, as is done in other countries. Before school, at lunch time and after school. They can forget their club activities. Detention may not deter the bad students from their unruliness, but it will separate the bullies from the rest of the school. Suspension and expulsion are not the answer either and are hardly ever employed in Japanese schools. Students need to know there are consequences for their misbehaviour. At present, there are none! That is the problem!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Zero tolerance bullying and harassment policies defines and constitutes what is unacceptable behaviour. If adopted correctly a clear set of procedures will follow for dealing with a complaint and subsequent action taken against the alleged bully.

Trained bullying and harassment advisors/counselors promoting parental inclusion, diversity and clear information about the potential sanctions, and where necessary rehabilitation must to be implemented without fear or favour .

If this 13-year-old boy knew there were clear confidential sources of emotional support and a place of safety on hand at this Junior high school from the first instance, that young life would not have ended so tragically.

Zero tolerance requires polices concentrating directly on how and why bullying behaviours develop.  If exclusion is warranted then The Board of Education must follow up with punitive disciplinary action so shifting the problem to another school does not occur.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

She's not a bad kid, she just did something stupid

I don't think letting one's stress out on someone else deliberately while drawing pleasure from it is 'something stupid' It's downright cold and sociopathic!! Bullying should not be tolerated, 100%!!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

The bullying of today is very different than what was happening decades ago when it was more physical but today is more twisted psychological.

Agree zichi, but was it really 'bullying'? I tend to think those were mostly random fights between kids/teens but did not constitute 'bullying' per se. When I grew up in the 80s, bullying (or our 'local' equivalent) wasn't a concept that was discussed/identified and I actually don't remember anyone being bullied at school or outside. 

Good posts stranger, reckon you handled that really well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Stranger, of course suspension/expulsion would be absurd in your daughter's case, involving minor grade-school bullying. I have a 2nd grader and she's been bullied twice--both times the teacher intervened and the boys involved ended up in tears. Hardly sociopaths.

But this article is about kid who killed himself, who was encouraged to do just that, who was physically assaulted, resulting in a broken bone. I'm all for your hands-on approach (simply b/c if we don't act on our children's behalf who will) but let's not pretend these are equivalent situations. And let's be clear that not all parents are able or willing to be as proactive as you were, which for them might even seem confrontational. Also, many parents lack open enough relationships with their teenage kids, remaining in the dark about what's going on. Parenting is tough and not everyone is up to the task. Their kids shouldn't be left to fend for themselves in Japanese schools, which continues to reveal themselves to be extremely cruel environments for anyone who is different.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

But this article is about kid who killed himself, who was encouraged to do just that, who was physically assaulted, resulting in a broken bone. I'm all for your hands-on approach (simply b/c if we don't act on our children's behalf who will) but let's not pretend these are equivalent situations.

I didn't say they are equivalent. The comment I was responding to was:

The only option (well one option) is zero tolerance. Expel bullies immediately.

Which was a blanket statement, and an extreme. In the case of the bullies in this articles, they definitely need to be dealt with harshly.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@goldorak 

Agree zichi, but was it really 'bullying'?

I left school in the early 1960's. Yes there was the fighting between kids but there were also the bullies who used physical threats over weaker kids to hand over their lunch money or sweets. The bullies would be taken behind the gym and the class would kick the s*+ out of them. The fighting was easy, loose the first one and then it was over.

Modern day bullying is like psycho warfare with all the internet tools and trolls

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Another parent said, "If the school was aware of the bullying and the Board of Education and teachers did something when they first heard about it, perhaps nothing would have happened [to the boy].”

A few comments from a few parents won't do a darn thing. All students should stand together and perhaps not show up to school and/or demand change of the faculty.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Strangerland's experience makes me think that parents being more involved in their children's lives would, as in his story, allow the parents to get ahead of the issue before it becomes a serious problem. It's nice that the school has someone who is there to handle this sort of situation, but they can't be everywhere all the time. Parents need to actually communicate with their kids - not just send them off to juku and swimming and English and abacus class, etc.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

jcapan May. 2  03:32 pm JST

Also, suspend or terminate the teachers and principals involved, with severe cuts to their pay as well. Blackball them from ever teaching or presiding over a school again.

The school may be the first line of defense, but don't you think the parents should take more responsibility than the teachers??? Teachers might have to be relied on to identify the bullying and enforce rules at school, but after all that's said and done, parents are responsible for their children's actions.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Spoke about this with some older Japanese people i know tonight and they mentioned it is part of "agreeing" to be part of society and just how the strong and the weak are "boxed" here. They are pretty smart folk but i was still left a bit confused As the father of a 1 y.o hafu it scares the pants of me, Ill teacher to to strike back though, i was raised never to take any BS and its done me proud, she will be raised the same way.

RIP little man

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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