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Education ministry urges all schools to make greater efforts to deal with bullying

22 Comments

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has instructed all schools to make greater efforts to become aware of bullying. The directive comes following the suicide earlier this year of Ryo Muramatsu, a 13-year-old student in Iwate who killed himself after being bullied.

The ministry urged schools to be on the alert when the new school term begins on Sept 1, Fuji TV reported. According to government figures, during the past 40 years, the number of suicides of students aged 18 and younger has been higher within the first week of school after the summer break than at any other time of year.

The ministry asked schools to go over the fundamental principles of bullying prevention with teachers and said that teachers need to be on the lookout for students asking for help, no matter how trivial it might seem at first.

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"make greater efforts", " be on the alert", "be on the lookout"... Well, with that kind of proactive actions we can be sure nothing will change in the way they handle it. But it sounds cool, which is the most important for these guys at the Ministry I guess

6 ( +7 / -1 )

And, so, is the Minister going to provide teachers and schools with a means of dealing with bullies? Because the real problem is that after taking away corporal punishment (which is a good thing), they've replaced it with nothing, and both the Ministry and schools are pulling the, "We leave it up to you" BS., and teachers can literally do nothing when a student misbehaves. Give them the right to kick unruly students out of class, and bullies out of school. Period. No tolerance. But no, no, no... can't do that -- the bullies have a right to an education (forget that they are taking away from everyone else's and even taking lives).

Lip-service, all of it.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Wow, @smithinjapan, I don't know if I've ever agreed with your comments before but you've sold me on this one. You've won tonight's debate.

Point 1, smithinjapan, 0 for the Education Ministry

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Make an effort? How about doing something? Making materials.... videos, this is suppose to be education, heck even a cute character might help. Just telling people without giving any sort of guidelines of how to spot it, deal with it and prevent is washing your hands of the issue.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Education ministry urges all schools to make greater efforts to deal with bullying

Yeah, starting with the teachers!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I love how these old geezers always say, "Work harder, do more!" "It is unfortunate..." "We need more effort!" When in fact they sit in their offices and do absolutely nothing and make no real solutions. That you old, tooth sucking goats is what is needed REAL SOLUTION.

So here is mine, perhaps what is needed is a kawaii mascot like Blackeye-chan to make the bullies feel bad. Then in their guilt they'll never bully again. (Eye roll, sarcasm off)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Urge, better efforts, become aware. Wow, strong words. Sarcasm in case anyone was wondering

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have a "weird" Japanese friend whose motto is "ganbaru doesn't solve problems", he built a company of 200 before he was thirty and still is leading it now.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Until the teachers stop walking out of the classrooms to move to another room, and leave 40 plus hormone infected kids alone for up to 7 minutes, no way can bullying be stopped. Teachers need their own rooms. Students should be moving and not kids.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Cut the size of classes in half or less.

Establish TWO WAY COMMUNICATION between students and teachers.

Cut down on the paperwork teachers are expected to do so that they can concentrate more on their students.

The teachers are not entirely to blame. Parents blame teachers and teachers blame parents while the education administrators sit in an ivory tower, holding meetings and writing reports, but oblivious to what is happening in the real world.

If the kids spent more time at home instead of going to juku and if the TV were switched OFF a few nights a week so that the family could actually communicate, things would improve.

The reason for suicide is individual but one common point is that the person doing it is out of communication. More communication between children and their parents and between children and their teachers could only help.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think there is a fear in Japan of the school contacting parents or of even parents contacting parents. What steps are organizations like the PTA taking to solve the conflicts of bullying?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

JapanGal AUG. 07, 2015 - 07:23PM JST Until the teachers stop walking out of the classrooms to move to another room, and leave 40 plus hormone infected kids alone for up to 7 minutes, no way can bullying be stopped.

This implies that no Japanese youth under the age of 18 is capable of controlling themselves unless they're under perpetual supervision, which is of course completely untrue.

BertieWooster AUG. 07, 2015 - 08:44PM JST Cut the size of classes in half or less. Establish TWO WAY COMMUNICATION between students and teachers.

I don't think this will help either. In the case with the student who committed suicide that prompted this latest concern about bullying, there was two-way communication. The homeroom teacher knew that bullying was taking place, and the student repeatedly went to the homeroom teacher for help. The teacher simply didn't do anything about it.

And that tells us where the real problem is. The correct solution is exactly what @Lovespam, @smithinjapan, and @gogogo have suggested - make a plan for dealing with bullying now. You cannot leave teachers to handle bullying on their own if you want to eliminate these cases, because not every teacher knows how to deal with bullying. A system needs to be in place all the way up the chain of command that is flexible but easy to understand and implement before bullying happens. It needs to be a part of teacher training, it needs to be a part of orientation for new hires to every school and it needs to be something that is periodically brought up every year to remind experienced teachers of what their obligations are. It needs to be set by school leaders in consultation with experts in child psychology, and then passed down to teachers.

In short, what we need is leadership, not platitudes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

katsu78,

In the case with the student who committed suicide that prompted this latest concern about bullying, there was two-way communication. The homeroom teacher knew that bullying was taking place, and the student repeatedly went to the homeroom teacher for help. The teacher simply didn't do anything about it.

I'm sorry, but I don't see that any real two way communication occurred. If the teacher did nothing about it, he or she didn't really get what the child was saying.

"What seems to be the problem?"

"The house is on fire!"

"OK. I'm going home now, see you!"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Greater efforts to come up with excuses why they couldn't act?

"It's the technology children are using these days, smartphones, instant messaging. It's beyond our understanding."

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Smith is absolutely right. When there are no consequences, it won't stop.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The PTA is a joke in Japan all they do is figure who cuts the grass and picks up trash around the school

-1 ( +1 / -1 )

No doubt that schools making greater efforts to deal with bullying will help however ultimately it falls down to individual parents and the lack of proper parenting skills.

Patents are in pairs so having parents educated to deal with their child would yield better results, it's like having two teachers, 2 to 1 ratio whilst teachers are normally 1 to 30 students at schools.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

BertieWooster AUG. 08, 2015 - 12:09AM JST I'm sorry, but I don't see that any real two way communication occurred. If the teacher did nothing about it, he or she didn't really get what the child was saying.

The boy wrote in his journal a message to his teacher saying he was thinking about killing himself because he was being bullied. The teacher responded to him, with words to the effect of, "Is that really happening?" This is why there was so much controversy about the event in the news- it became fairly clear that the teacher knew and did nothing.

Now, you would be absolutely correct to say that the teacher's response was wholly inadequate. What I'm saying is that the channel for 2-way communication was already there and was used. Now as far as I've heard there has been no explanation given for why the teacher did nothing, but I suspect from my own experiences with Japanese homeroom teachers that she just had no idea what to do, and out of uncertainty chose to do nothing rather than risk mistakenly doing the wrong thing.

That's why I say the higher-ups need to make a policy for dealing with bullying. If it was for example school policy that any time a teacher hears a student accuse other students of bullying they are required to immediately inform the head teacher of that grade and both teachers are required to independently consult the bullied student, that would increase the likelihood that someone would do something. If there's one thing Japanese people tend to be good at, it's following the rules, so make a rule that spells out unambiguously how teachers are supposed to try and deal with this. Don't let these teachers' uncertainty become an excuse for inaction.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What about the role of the student council? Or individual class representatives?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Lovespam

"make greater efforts", " be on the alert", "be on the lookout"... Well, with that kind of proactive actions we can be sure nothing will change in the way they handle it. But it sounds cool, which is the most important for these guys at the Ministry I guess

Yeah, and they just LOVE the word 'urge', as opposed to actually enforcing policy change & law reforms.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I never quite understood the "group bullying" and distinct bullying problem since my schools had teachers roaming the outside campus, the halls and checking bathrooms all day. Of course there are other ways to bully that are less visually percieved.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Is it only me that finds the "when the new school year begins on Sept. 1" strange?

As far as I know, school years here begin in April, not September.

This isn't (only) a comment about what is presumably either a typo or an egregious addition made incorrectly by the writer.

I am really curious whether what is meant is "when the new school year begins in April"--which would seem to be awfully late to begin--or "when school starts again in September" (after summer vacation, which is during school years rather than between them here).

The latter, despite its weak "urge" and "ask" language, would at least be aiming at something sooner rather than much later.

Moderator: The story has been corrected.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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