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School forced to disclose bullying questionnaire results to parents

38 Comments

A school in Kawanishi, Hyogo Prefecture, is to break a confidentiality agreement made with students who responded to a survey about bullying.

The survey was carried out following the suicide of a 17-year-old boy, who was being called "bug" and "germ" by classmates, and had dead insects placed on his chair in class, Sankei Shimbun reported. The boy committed suicide by hanging himself at his home on Sept 2. Following his death, the boy’s school told his parents that there were no problems in his school life and that they were unaware of any bullying. The boy did not leave any written notes.

However, following his funeral, the boy’s parents discovered a mourning letter written by a classmate and addressed to their son, which revealed that he had been bullied. The parents contacted his school and were told that the school principal had also heard reports from other sources that their son had been the victim of bullying.

School authorities conducted a survey of the boy’s classmates in order to ascertain the scale of the problem. The school read portions of the survey responses to parents, but said they did not release the full documents in an attempt to protect students' privacy.

However, parents contacted the Hyogo Board of Education and demanded full access to the documents. The school's principal told a news conference: "I would like to reveal what information we can, according to parents' wishes."

A spokesperson said that information identifying individuals will be removed from the documents before they are read by parents, Sankei reported.

Following that announcement, an emergency parent-teacher meeting was held on the Tuesday night, at which the school apologized for the comments of a teacher who told students in class that if parents continued to fail to understand the school's reasons and methods, the school would cease to operate and eventually collapse. The principal apologized for the teacher's "inappropriate" comments.

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38 Comments
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The victim's parents have every right to see the result. Just as every parent in the school has a right to see it. The actual bullying might be happening at school but it begins at home. How will the bullies' parents know it was their kid(s) that did it? I don't think it's wise to disclose the students' names (did the school make them write their name??) but the results should be addressed to all. Put PTA meetings to some good use!

And what's with the teacher who made the students "choose" between teachers and parents! Shame on him/her!!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

No, Ms Alexander, they don't. If the teachers made an agreement with the students for this survey that the results would be kept confidential, they should be kept confidential. Doing this means the students won't trust the teachers and in the future, they will not be honest with what they saw and what they say. It breaks trust between teachers and students - and it won't only be this school that is affected.

If the parents wanted to know what was going on their son, they should have communicated with him before he killed himself. The fact that his bullying was so badly he committed suicide and that the parents were clueless about it all is a good indication there were problems at home.

I do agree though that bullying is learned at home. Which is why I think Japan's parents and society need to look at how THEY behave to others and realise that THEY are apart of the problem. This whole "blame the teachers, blame the schools" is unfair. Bullying starts at home, long before school starts.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Following his death, the boy’s school told his parents that there were no problems in his school life and that they were unaware of any bullying.

This is ALMOST ALWAYS the case. Are the students very good at hiding what they are up to or what? Or are the schools naive enough to wait for some of their kids to come up and expose what is going on???

Either way, many schools are shit at finding bullying incidents and, therefore, need to change their ways. Set up a system of intelligence among the students and, if need be, let me be blunt, use espionage. Yeah, yeah, the students' rights infringed, but the current naive system doesn't work, and it's much better than being too late to save the bullied again.

To help all that, make a law that forces the schools to set up an anti-bullying system just as Sweden did.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Time to start punching bullies in the face! (again)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Tmarie I think under the circumstances, the parents should be able see the surveys. Maybe they could use them to sue the school. Such a shameful and horrible cover up and still, not enough closure for the victims family. Also, how can you say bullying is learned at home? It could be learned anywhere, like, peer pressure from one idiot. The parents obviously had no idea and maybe their son wanted it that way. Luckily for them another student had the guts to write them a letter saying the truth, something the school, adults, couldn't do. This is where the punishment should lie. With the school. They are leaders and must set examples. Obviously students who knew the victim was bullied could see that nothing was being done about it and saw how the school covered it up by not approaching the parents. This case still saddens me and I truly hope a more severe punishment is given to the school and the bullies involved.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

Are the students very good at hiding what they are up to or what? Or are the schools naive enough to wait for some of their kids to come up and expose what is going on???

It was a comment that the PARENTS didn't know. Why? Because there is a lack of communication between parents and child.

Cl400, why not sue the kids and the parent's of the bullies rather than the school? If the parents didn't know there was an issue, why do you expect a teacher to know? They look after hundreds of kids everyday. Parents are supposed to look after their own.

How can you not say bullying is learned at home? Kids who bully usually have issues at home - be it an abusive parents, being ignored... all forms of bullying. Kids don't walk into schools and magically become bullies. And indeed, it is also learned from society - from adults. Until the adults here learn to play nice with each other, they can't expect the kids to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tmarie, I agree parents often set bad examples which can cause youths to do many things, including bullying, but it isn't only learned from there. The parents of the bullies weren't directly involved in the bullying so regardless of how they raised their children, they shouldn't be blamed for any involvment. The shame is probably enough for them. The teachers on the other hand, well, from what I think I read, they did have an idea that the victim was being bullied but didn't take it seriously enough.

It's sad the parents didn't know but unfortunately family communication isn't huge in Japan. Just accept it. Getting counseling, admitting ones problems, ratting on someone, etc isn't a big thing here either. Hopefully though people will learn from this incident and start communicating more with family, friends, teachers, etc... when they do have a problem.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Everybody is clueless in Japan about problems, and NOBODY knows anything is wrong. EVER. This poor kid was close to killing himself and his own PARENTS didn't even notice a change in behavior?

No matter how bad the issue is, nobody wants to spend any effort confronting it, and fixing it. EVERYBODY involved spends ALL their energy positioning themselves so they can throw up their hands and say, "gee, it's not MY fault!"

This is very sad, very horrible, and absolutely disgusting.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

It's sad the parents didn't know but unfortunately family communication isn't huge in Japan. Just accept it. Getting counseling, admitting ones problems, ratting on someone, etc isn't a big thing here either. Hopefully though people will learn from this incident and start communicating more with family, friends, teachers, etc... when they do have a problem.

So true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A spokesperson said that information identifying individuals will be removed from the documents before they are read by parents

If identifying information is being removed then there is absolutely no breach of confidentiality and the parents should have access to the results of the questionnaire. This is a no-brainer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Bad idea... They are going to have to act. Exposing the school's problems and not just burry the report... /sarcasm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The teachers on the other hand, well, from what I think I read, they did have an idea that the victim was being bullied but didn't take it seriously enough.

So you want to blame the teachers, who saw these kids a few hours a week rather than the parents who have known the bullies since birth? Where's the logic??

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Regardless of how many hours the teachers sees these students every week, if he/she KNEW that there was bullying present, he/she should have taken it seriously. If something happens at school, the school should be held accountable for it. Simple as that.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

One BOP on the nose and you don't get bullied or bully again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a police matter now, the question of the confidentiality of the survey is basically moot, because it relates to a crime, so the confidentiality agreement itself is probably against the law.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I guess the main question is did the school require each student to write their names. If they did (which I don't see why they would make them), then can't they just omit the names and disclose just the comments?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No, Ms Alexander, they don't. If the teachers made an agreement with the students for this survey that the results would be kept confidential,...

Sorry. But I have to object to this. Any adult making an agreement with a minor, school or not is nul and void unless said school gets written consent from a parent or guardian. Especially about something as sensitive as suicide. They had no right to conduct this survey in the manner that they did. Asking children to keep secrets from their parents...pathetic.

S

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Surveys are meaningless in this case. You need to interview all the students individually.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the identifying information should be removed BUT those named should be hauled in with their parents. what is the problem calling it what it is? BULLYING usually involves ASSAULT at some point. is that not a crime? and those students and the teachers who knew about it should be held accountable preferably in the court system. i told my family in my home country about the boy who was burned with cigarettes and then told that HE should not come to school because his injuries upset the other children. that is the kind of school system that is here in too many places. my family, to say the least, was shocked beyond words.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tmarie I agree with you. These parents don't do anything but coddle and cook for their kids. EVERYTHING else is on the teachers. They expect the teachers and schools to do everything! They don't understand the difference between STUDENT and CHILD. From disciplining to caring for the role of the teacher and the parent is different. There is only sooo much that the teacher is responsible for. There is a limit to the teachers responsibility. There is NO LIMIT to the parents responsibility!! I'm a parent of 3 and have been an elementary school teacher for 6 yrs in Japan, but this goes for bullying everywhere: STOP CODDLING YOUR KIDS!!!! The reason bullying is in the rise is because kids nowadays are WEAK! Remember the saying "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"!! REMEMBER THAT??? AS PARENTS WE NEED TO STOP TRYING TO PROTECT OUR KIDS FROM LIFE BECAUSE ITS IMPOSSIBLE BUT INSTEAD WE NEED TO PREPARE OUR KIDS FOR LIFE BECAUSE ITS INEVITABLE!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

This is the fundemental flaw in these surveys. They require the students to write their names on them.

I think there are very few teenagers -- and adults even -- who, when faced with the possibility, no matter how remote, of being found out by a bully that he or she was the one who ratted him or her out, is willing to take the risk of saying anything. Teens just don't operate that way. It's a survival mechanism, and a good one, at that, judging by how vicious and vindictive teens can often be.

The schools that I have worked at in the past have all employed these non-annonymous surveys and after collating the data, lo and behold, every single one of the schools, without fail, declared triumphantly that their school was bully-free. Which I know from personal observation was wholly wishful horse puckey.

Teachers have claimed that requiring the students to put their names on the surveys helps prevent innocent students from being falsley accused, but even a moment's consideration of this excuse would pruduce a number of ways to adminster and process the results in a manner that eliminates this possibility, the easiest being a surprise survey of which the students have no prior knowledge. No time or means to conspire to frame someone that way.

Furthermore, if the teachers are actually doing their jobs, which is also ostensibly to be on the lookout for bullying, a cursory glance at the results by a number of eyes, including the homeroom teachers would reveal any suspicious data, which could summarily be thrown out.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

All goes to show how process can be improved in future in terms of survey format and confidentiality arrangements (while I can only wish for there to be no need to go through this process ever again)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kids don't walk into schools and magically become bullies.

Actually yes, they do. How many times my parents, and I'm sure yours too, told me "but I never taught you to be like that" for whatever troubles I made.

Indeed. Parents and society always put the blame on the school and teachers. Like if they were the only ones guilty. The kid never said a thing to his parents neither they noticed something was going on.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you make exceptions to a promise, then you are only backpedaling or justifying.

By breaking a promise, you are breaking trust. And without trust nothing works; not in personal relationships, not in business.

The students will learn to never trust the teachers, the parents, no one. The students will learn if you ever tell the truth under confidentiality, someone can use it against you.

How does this help young adults (whether minors or not) in society as a whole in any country.

The problem is the teachers should not have made a promise they couldn’t keep.

The teachers should have asked the students to reply as honestly as possible, for this involved the loss of a human life, their fellow classmate; but with no false promises.

You will be surprised how people in any country are willing to step forward, if they are told the truth and how telling the truth can be of tremendous help.

And there is nothing mature and worldly of people who say, “I’m smarter, I know confidentiality doesn’t work, so I don’t say anything that can entangle me”.

These are just people who are afraid and have lost trust along the way. Just like the students.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regardless of how many hours the teachers sees these students every week, if he/she KNEW that there was bullying present, he/she should have taken it seriously. If something happens at school, the school should be held accountable for it. Simple as that.

But that goes back to the question of "Did they know?". Some of you seem to expect the teachers to know everything about their students while okaying that their parents know very little. This happened in April I believe. A month or so after school started. New students for the teachers. Give them a break.

Sorry. But I have to object to this. Any adult making an agreement with a minor, school or not is nul and void unless said school gets written consent from a parent or guardian. Especially about something as sensitive as suicide. They had no right to conduct this survey in the manner that they did. Asking children to keep secrets from their parents...pathetic.

Sorry, what? Null and void? Good luck getting any respect from a student if this is how you feel about them. Kids are people well and your attitude toward them is patronizing. No one is asking they keep "secrets" from parents at all. If the kids want to let these parents know what happened, they can.

And I agree, it is pretty pathetic that TEACHERS have to question the students. Shouldn't parents be questioning their kids about what they know and take the info from there? If this kid was "bullied to death" the police need to be involved, not the teachers. The kids can talk to the police and their parents, not the teachers.

Actually yes, they do. How many times my parents, and I'm sure yours too, told me "but I never taught you to be like that" for whatever troubles I made.

Um, no. They learn the behaviour from other kids who get it from... their parents and society, not the schools.

Don't get me wrong, I think that many Japanese teachers are shockers when it comes to bullying and issues but it isn't fair to always blame just the teachers. Parents need to step up to the plate and admit they too are part of the problem. Again, how on earth do you live with your child who is being bullies to the point of suicide and not know there is an issue??

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If they want to stop this kind kind of abuse in schools they have to stop mollycoddling the kids and tech them to stand up for themselves. As for the parents gaining access to the information: There should never have had to have been a survey done in the school. The teachers need to stop running away from the parents and start issuing kids punishments and marching orders. The teachers need to have some sort of disciplinary measures besides expulsion so they can weed out the bad eggs and stop this from happening.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If the parents wanted to know what was going on their son, they should have communicated with him before he killed himself. The fact that his bullying was so badly he committed suicide and that the parents were clueless about it all is a good indication there were problems at home.

Is this really a fact? Or is it a generalisation? I have no doubt it will be true in some cases but this happens the world over. Kids are really quite clever at concealing things from their parents, be that bad things that are happening to them or bad things that they are doing.

Surely we all know that from some kind of personal experience when we were kids.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Too often

fail to understand

just means "fail to accept."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They learn the behavior from other kids who get it from...

Which is precisely my point tmarie.We're on the same page here. And since they spend more time at school and extra curricular activities than at home, no wonder there's a problem with communication.

Teachers are super overloaded with work. I'm surprised they have time to plan lessons. Classes, bukatsu, bukatsu, extra curricular activities even during the holidays, more bukatsu. No time to rest, relax and enjoy life. They're not machines, they also get tired. And dealing with the bullies is not an easy task. In many cases teachers find themselves with their hands tied. Bullies plainly insult the teachers and call them baka but the teachers are already too stressed and too exhausted. Can't deny the students from coming into the classroom. Can't expel them. Can't fail them either.

After a kid commits that terrible crime everyone starts looking who to blame. Who's to blame? The whole system is. To me, this system is a fail fail. Want to start seeing some changes, then start making changes to the educational system. Start by giving the teachers a break to rest.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

For a survey like this to have been useful, the student's identities should have never been required in the first place. The surveys should have been 100% anonymous. I'm sure kids witheld information for fear of this very thing getting back to them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't understand why the kids don't speak their minds, when i was a kid i always told my parents what happened at school and when something was wrong we always chatted with the principal. When i had some problems with classmates we tried to solve the problem as a kid. (Fighting,crying,playing and becoming friends again)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Is this really a fact? Or is it a generalisation? I have no doubt it will be true in some cases but this happens the world over. Kids are really quite clever at concealing things from their parents, be that bad things that are happening to them or bad things that they are doing.

Are you kidding me? Parents aren't dumb. If this kid was bullied to the point of suicide there were certainly changes in his personality and demeanour. I think for a lot of parents they're in denial and refuse to admit there is a problem or ignore it and think whatever is the issue, it'll go away. If these parents didn't realise there was a problem, they really did have an issue with communication with their child. Kids aren't that good at hiding things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kids aren't that good at hiding things.

Yes they are.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

this video is about life in Japan as you don't normally see it, and part of it includes bullying in the workplace among adults. It is very interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_l5b6lZ0mM&feature=related

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ms., no, they really aren't. If kids can hide things for adults that easily, its because the adult isn't paying that much attention - hence my comments about a communication issue in the family.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So you're saying your parents knew everything about you? And everything you did?

Good and open communication or not, kids don't behave exactly the same at school and at home.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Pretty much. Mine weren't clueless, paid attention and made sure we sat and talked about things. Like parents should. They knew when I was up to no good - even though I thought I was clever and was hiding it. They decided what to address and what to ignore and trust me with.

And you're right, they don't behave the same at school and at home. Which is why parents AND teachers need to work together. They really don't here. The PTA bullies the teachers, the teachers have zero control and are afraid of the parents. Perhaps because when things go wrong, everyone blames the teachers rather than the students and the parents. Imagine that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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