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Anti-bullying bill enacted; support systems to be improved

24 Comments

The Upper House on Friday enacted a bill to combat bullying in Japan’s schools.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party drafted the anti-bullying bill in January, in which it defined a variety of types of bullying, including malicious Internet postings. The bill was proposed in response to the suicide of a bullied junior high school boy in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, following which the school and board of education were accused of mishandling the case and failing to support the victim.

The new law calls for committees to be set up in schools, consisting of members of staff and counselors, to monitor bullying and advise students. If bullying cases are deemed to be life-threatening to one or more party, the law also allows boards of education to investigate. The results of those investigations are to be disclosed to parents and victims of bullying.

The new laws also empower local governments to call on third-party organizations for the purpose of investigating serious cases, in the event that the board of education fails satisfactorily to investigate, TV Asahi reported.

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24 Comments
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Need a national law to fix a parenting problem? The bad kids have bad parents. They live in an environment where self defense is punished while aggressors are ignored.... Tell the bad parents to pound sand, put your own kids in Karate classes, and stop the teachers from either only punishing self defense or have them bounce everyone who fights.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone has their opinions on this matter but I say that, Japan made a right move although can use some more adjustments but however if this new law will combat bullying then so be it.

I'm curious, what's right about it? Without more details other than the committee thing, which btw many schools already have in place, how is it going to combat bullying?

You can make all sorts of laws, but without any teeth in them, they are meaningless. I for one want to know what are the penalties that will be assessed if someone is found to be guilty of bullying? More importantly what preventive measures are going to be implemented? How are future educators going to be trained and taught how to look for and deal with bullying? What penalties are going to be assessed educators or schools that fail to deal with in a timely manner issues in their schools related to bullying?

There are a literal host of questions that are not answered by this article alone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Everyone has their opinions on this matter but I say that, Japan made a right move although can use some more adjustments but however if this new law will combat bullying then so be it.

Kid's need to learn to stop picking on each other, one will seriously face "KARMA" later in their life if they continue.

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At job, psychological bullying is a daily routine in Japan. Not much from bosses, but definitely from coworkers. Any one being a bit different is hardly hammered down. Fact!

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For a country that prides itself on the harmonization of its citizens, it's pretty awful at doing it, And Yubaru, I was merely being facetious when I suggested Japan implement measures at the workplace and elsewhere to combat bullying. I completely agree with you... It's a leopard and it's spots situation. But I don't agree with your opinion that western societies have a similar bullying situation. No way. It's a major issue at the any workplace in Japan. Not so in the west. When was the last time you heard of an American or European taking time off work or quitting because of "relationship issues or stress"? In Japan, this is not at all uncommon. Just ask any adult westerner if bullying is an issue in his/her life, they will most likely sincerely say "no" with a perplexed laugh as if it were a silly question. Ask a Japanese adult that question, and you will most likely have a different response with a "so desu be", a smile, and perhaps an anecdote of such behavior, or at e very least an acknowledgment that the bullying issue exists and is unfortunate. And Japan is a group oriented society. Such a social construction lends itself much more easily to bullying tactics and the subsequent insidious, immature behavior.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Yub that statement is a little contradictory in itself. If they were the best students they wouldn't be lowered into being bullies. Socially inept people bully aka misfits of society.

I don't think you get what I was writing about. Even in North American schools, and here in Japan as well, kids who are VERY socially adept, not inept, kids who were raised with silver spoons in their mouths, go the the "best" schools, can study, etc etc etc....bully other people, people "below" them socially or academically, and are seen as the "best" students by teachers and parents alike, and many times are above reproach because of their reputations.

I have seen kids like that bully others. It happens. It isnt the so called misfits that do all the bullying, it's average kids that get caught up into something that they wouldnt be involved in otherwise, there are TONS of bullies like that here in Japan as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like Yubaru and Richard Poser pointed out, this "law" has no real bite and will therefore be pretty much useless. Here is what I think should be done. 1.) Define bullying as any direct action that is intended to inflict physical and/or emotional damage on another person (any physical violence such as pushing, hitting, throwing objects, etc. and any verbal/written harrassment such as taunting, name-calling on Facebook, Twitter, etc.in addition to writing/defacing desks, books, etc.). In my opinion, ignoring is too subjective and would be next to impossible to enforce. 2.) First offenses will see the offender(s) and their parents in counselling. Second offenses will see offender(s) suspended from school for one week. After that, involve law enforcement as repeated bullying carries the same criteria as stalking. These are the polices that were enacted after I was bullied in the early 70's in Detroit and decided to fight back. As an obese 2nd grader I was easy prey for three 6th graders. At first it was taking my lunch money and then shoving me around after school which resulted in bloody noses and torn clothes. My parents, the teachers and the principal couldn't/wouldn't do anything so I altered my routes home, taking a different path everyday; tried to hide in the library until I thought the terrible three were gone which usually worked. Unfortunately one day it didn't work and the three boys caught me by a small pond. My book bag was thrown into the water. During the pulling of my backpack off of my back, one of my shoes also came off and that was also tossed into the pond. The three boys thought was such fun that they pulled the rest of my clothes and glasses off of me (I'm very near-sighted) and threw everything into the pond before running off. I wasn't going into the water (there were monsters in there! ) so I walked home stark naked, nearly blind. The next morning before going to school I went into our shed and found a lead pipe which I put up the sleeve of my Scooby Do sweatshirt. Later that day the three boys came after me, hoping to get my lunch money. I handed over the money with my left hand and when the leader reached out to take it I dropped the pipe into my right hand and hit the leader in the wrist, breaking it. Another boy stepped forward and I hit him in the jaw, breaking and dislocating it. The third bully ran off and I walked the rest of the way to school. Two hours later the police came and it became even more interesting. Long story short; the school was afraid of having to explain their lack of intervention, the boys and their parents were being swamped with calls from other parents of other children they had terrorized and I was afraid of going to juvie (juvenile detention) so the no one wanted to press charges against the other. Am I proud of what I did? No. But I learned a valuable lesson; bullies don't stop until they are stopped and this attempt by Japanese politicians will not do that. I fear that one day some Japanese student may do what I did and that will be sad but maybe necessary to end the scourge of bullying. Please forgive the long length of this post but it seemed relevant.

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So what happens when a teacher bullies a student?

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@Yub that statement is a little contradictory in itself. If they were the best students they wouldn't be lowered into being bullies. Socially inept people bully aka misfits of society.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Waste of time, more bureaucracy....what they should do is put police officers in each school like many North American schools do. Police should be dealing with these issues directly with the parents of these misfits and the misfits themselves.

Problem is not all bullies are misfits, just like in North American schools. Some of the so-called "best" students can be bullies too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Waste of time, more bureaucracy....what they should do is put police officers in each school like many North American schools do. Police should be dealing with these issues directly with the parents of these misfits and the misfits themselves. Make the bad students perform community services or sit in on anti bullying classes with their parents.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is a nice start though concerns it does not go far enough are valid.

Here is a better question. What powers may be granted/affirmed to school authorities? It is all very well to reaffirm their responsibility and increase power to investigate, but without increasing powers accordingly it is impossible to expect change.

One example: 苛めを犯した生徒に対し退学させ無ければ成らない。

The above states: Students found guilty of bullying must be expelled. Note that I did not say "can expel", but must. This not only forces schools to take decisive action. It also shields them from monster parents - The law gives us no discretion on this matter, sorry.

Any other similar ideas they can add into the law?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Like so many laws and regulations in Japan, they have no real bite. This is a serious problem and another political whitewash or sweeping under the rug.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A step in the right direction!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

i agree its just rampant in japan, it almost seems like its something you expect to happen, so its a norm...this attitude of acceptance of that condition needs to change from all levels of the administration

i've honestly never met a japanese who has never been bullied or not know of someone who was bullied, and in almost all these cases, nobody would do anything

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Most of the schools I worked in the teachers were afraid to chastise the students for fear of monster parents. This legislation is gonna open up a whole new can of worms for monster parents and students dealing with false accusations. Legislation is not the answer. The answer is discipline and punishments for offenders. There are many ways of disciplining and punishing teenagers without knocking them around.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Perhaps they should also implement this kind of system in all facets of Japanese society. Sadly, bullying is so endemic here because it's an intrinsic part of the Jaoanese culture. It's how the society commuicstes,

How? It's kind of naive to think that bullying is a Japanese phenomenon, in schools, or society as a whole. It's a world-wide issue.

Unless they spell out penalties, unless they bring in outside help and not people from within the system, who as smith noted, are just as much a part of the problem as the solution, things are not going to change much.

They need to start by educating the educators. Sadly bullying will continue to be a problem and will probably never change here. It's like asking a leopard to change its spots, never going to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree with Smithinjapan totally. Bullying should be taken seriously, very seriously. A teacher that ignores bullying to me shouldn't be a teacher in the first place, teachers who DEFEND the bully even more. There needs to be a change in mentality in all facets of society for anything to change.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The new law calls for committees to be set up in schools, consisting of members of staff and counselors, to monitor bullying and advise students"

It's great that they are trying to address the subject and make changes, but I really have to wonder... when it's the staff and counselors, admin, and BOEs who were supposed to have been enforcing anti-bullying all along and turn a blind eye to it, what does this new bill change? Is it going to change society's thinking about 'sticking out' and actually reporting something? Are the police going to enforce the law before a child commits suicide instead of after the fact? what will happen to the bullies?

There needs to be more concrete action taken by the central government in terms of spelling out the conditions of the bill and the punishments meted out if bullying occurs and/or if said committees, staff, counselors, etc. fail to deal with it in an effective manner when it's proven they were aware of it. Make them open to lawsuits and criminal charges (bullies and those who ignore it as well), give the schools the power to suspend and expel students (the latter for repeated offenses). Allow the police to come in when extreme examples of internet postings are found or there is evidence of physical abuse reported by parents.

As it is, I see this as little more than lip-service.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

ViennaSausage2; yep, well said indeed. I agree with everything you wrote. It is sickening how they bully eachother here. So many subtle and nasty ways to it all, and done in packs, like wild monkeys.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Perhaps they should also implement this kind of system in all facets of Japanese society. Sadly, bullying is so endemic here because it's an intrinsic part of the Jaoanese culture. It's how the society commuicstes,

I can't imagine how many hours and money has been lost due to workplace bullying here. Housewife/ neighborhood bullying... Mother-in-laws bullying daughter-in-laws... Etc... I've seen it so often first hand. In western countries, most people won't put up with it and stick up for themselves, but in this culture, the one getting bullied almost always defers to the stronger one(s). What's more, things are done in groups here, making the task of overcoming the bully that much formidable. Japan has many wonderful things that characterize it. Unfortunately, bullying is an issue that stains the canvas.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Nothing can be done about bullying here. It is too much a part of society and culture to be eradicated. Not only that, it is part of a society and culture which is growing older and has proven itself constantly, to be absolutely unwilling to embrace anything new or different.

We are just going to have to wait for the nation to fade away as they all get older, and the numbers dwindle. Only then will the amount of Japanese be low enough to be open and willing to change.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Like the saying goes; the proof is in the pudding. How this is actually active at the school level will bear watching and one thing missing is what penalties can the schools impose if a bully is caught?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A welcome start, but just for schools?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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