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Victim didn't declare bullying on questionnaire due to fear of tormentors

33 Comments

A student bullied at a school in Nara reportedly told his school that he didn't mention the bullying in a questionnaire that was distributed to students last month.

One high school student and three junior high school students were arrested by police after they last month allegedly forced a classmate to remove to his clothes and photographed him with their cell phones. The boys then allegedly sent the photos to other students at the school.

According to a Fuji TV report, the bullied child sought police consultation, following which the four boys were arrested. However, during police questioning, the boy told investigators that he had not declared the bullying on a school survey this year, because he was afraid of his tormentors.

The boy's testimony further casts doubt on the efficacy of questionnaires as a means of dealing with bullying, some psychiatrists and education professionals claim.

Prefectural boards of education across Japan this year conducted questionnaires in an attempt to guage the extent of bullying in the nation's schools, following the suicide of a 13-year-old junior high school student in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture.

The suicide sparked outrage across the nation from a public who believed teachers and authorities had failed to act while the boy, who killed himself last October, was relentlessly bullied and forced "practice" his suicide.

A questionnaire distributed among students at the school later revealed that the bullying was witnessed by students and teachers. The Shiga Board of Education at first concluded that "a cause and effect relationship between the bullying and the suicide could not be established."

The public outcry continued and the school was eventually forced to conclude that it was likely the bullying had caused the suicide. Following that incident a nationwide survey was carried out. However, the government has been criticized for relying on questionnaires in such cases.

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33 Comments
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Sad. Why cant these teachers speak to these children one-on-one instead of doing questionaires? They would probably get more honest answers this way.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Proper parenting would alleviate most of this nonsense. The parents of the other students who received the photos should be heavily fined as well if their child did not immediately report it. Perhaps replacing nonsensical wide shows with dramas and documentaries that illustrate the ugliness of this behaviour should be forced on the TV networks. Sigh...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Students probably feel safer telling their teacher nothing concrete face to face. Much safer to bottle it all up.

If a breath or a suspicion that they spoke out got around, their life would be double hell from then on.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Jeff - I am not sure if you have lived in Japan very long or know many Japanese parents, but from my experience, the idea of proper parenting in Japan is based on threats and intimidation (AKA: Bullying). You can't fight fire with fire. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to bullying in Japanese schools because it is part of the culture and carries right through the society right up into the workplace. The only thing they can do is, teach the victims to stand up for themselves and stop being cowering wimps.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Take the Gracie Academy's 'Bullyproof' course and learn how to kick some bully ass.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

if they can not fill out a survey they are not worthy of being Japanese.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

seig Heil

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm also guessing the students had to write their own name and class on the survey. Another reason students might be disinclined to tell the full truth.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The problem is twofold. First, bullying (like above posters mentioned) is engrained in the culture. Penguins are known to force the weakest of their group into the water to confirm whether a killer whale is is present. They'll never change because its in their nature. And while bullying does exist around the world over, it seems particularly prevalent in Japan. The second issue is the attitude towards suicide. Kids and adults alike jump too quick to that last resort, due to reasons too numerous to list here. The point is that bullying combined with the suicidal tendencies makes for a deadly combination.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why cant these teachers speak to these children one-on-one instead of doing questionaires?

There's only so much time in the school day, and teachers are already over-worked. Even if you had just 5 minutes with each child, that would be nearly 3 hours for a class of 35 children.

If children don't want to write down their problems on a confidential form, tell their parents or approach their teachers, I'm not sure what can be done, except trying to be extra-vigilant.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Isn't this whole society based on not speaking your mind and keeping things to yourself - do some gaman? Japan is a nation filled with yes-men that will never ever speak up (unless they are intoxicated).

I believe that these teachers and school officials know very well what's going on but they see it as a big hassle to act on it. Giving kids "questionnaires" is a shame, personal contact and attention is what is needed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The only thing they can do is, teach the victims to stand up for themselves and stop being cowering wimps.

That's a very harsh thing to say, Disallusioned. Fighting back isn't an answer. I was bullied at school, but my parents and a threat from the headmaster eventually stopped it. Yes I was shouted at a few times after that, but they decided to pick on someone else.

It's this 'be a man' attitude which is all wrong. Teachers and school staff are meant to protect you as well as teach you. When you go to school you are meant to be a safe and caring environment, not Fort Bragg or wherever.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Can't go to their teacher, can't go to their parents, probably won't help going to the cops either. Are we going to have to wait for a few mass-stabbings for this to be viewed as an important issue?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

so when students and teachers witness bullying what do they do?....nothing(look away)?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

well, a news article without pics don't do much justice to the story...for all you know these dudes mighta been large, towering baddies, with links to a gang or somthin...then i'd say the dynamics of the story changes quite a bit

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Solution is not so difficult. Implement Australian policy that any teacher who witnesses but does not report bullying is subject to criminal charges. Secondly, surveys need only need 3 items and should be given out every Monday. 1. In the last week have you witnessed someone else being bullied and if yes, who was the victim and who was/were perpetrator(s). 2. Did any other students or teachers witness it and if yes, who were they. 3. Do you understand that if you are named as a witness to bullying and did not report this on the survey, you, your parents and teacher will be subject to police questioning and you will be expelled from school for giving false information.

japan is a very rule orientated society. They just need to be given clear rules with threat of punishment.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I say, don't teach kids self-defense as a means to deter bullying, teach them mob justice. There are a lot of non-bullies, and only a few bullies. If you teach them to gather together and threaten to kick the bully's butt en masse, there's not much the bully can do.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They just need to be given clear rules with threat of punishment.

That would never work.

Teachers are afraid of the parents.

If they passed a law saying teachers could even suspend kids, the parents would throw the biggest hissy fit planet Earth has ever seen, and they'd all hate the politicians.

So, the politicians are afraid of the parents as well.

Besides, all the rules in Japan are based on NOT calling attention to yourself.

But you're right, the solution is simple, provided the powers that be actually WANT a working solution, rather than only wanting to PRETEND to want a solution.

And we all know how THAT goes.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@gaijininfo Understand your point about monster parents and kids and your other ones. Nevertheless, when they banned smoking on the streets and on JR platforms the vast majority stopped. Seems you have been here for a long time so you maybe know that this society is highly influenced by fear and negative motivation as well as the avoidance of shame. Yes, you are right that many parents have reversed the tables on many teachers but the same is not true with the police which for now the majority of parents don't want knocking on their door and the shame/explanation that comes with it to the neighbours.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm also guessing the students had to write their own name and class on the survey. Another reason students might be disinclined to tell the full truth.

I absolutely believe this to be the case. If the form was anonymous then the boy in this article would have had no need to fear reprisals.

They should do these questionaires like our college does the course evaluation forms. The elimination of the possibility of reprisal by the professor is the reason why the course evaluation forms we are required to fill out at the end of each college course have NO place for a name and one of the students must bring the forms down to the Department Chair's office rather than handing them to the professor.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not as simple as making the form anonymous. If everyone writes them together in class, other kids look to see where you placed your mark, especially when the teacher has his/her back turned. Even such a possibility is frightening. It's not worth the risk to write the truth.

These anonymous questionnaires need to be done at home and posted to the school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even if you had just 5 minutes with each child, that would be nearly 3 hours for a class of 35 children.

How important is dealing with bullying and child suicide? Is time really that important if it will save the lives of children?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The victims need to understand that they will be respected and protected by the authorities. Too often the school either ignores the situation (bad) or gives some type of punishment that tells the perps that they have been complained about.

In a situation involving bullying the perps have to be separated from the victim so that they can't act again. Transferring them to a different school (and separating the clique from each other) and billing the parents for the expense might be a good start. But bullying has been going on for ages, how do you stop it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

IMHO, I think teachers should be given proper training and seminars on how to detect students behavior inside their classroom to know if they were bullied or being bullied. One way for teachers to help in eradicating school bullies instead of just passing questionnaires. How about it Japanese Education Department heads.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

legibly forced a classmate to remove to his clothes and photographed him with their cell phones. The boys then allegedly sent the photos to other students at the school.

Problems like that are happening around the world. Not just Japan....

THE PARENTS ARE TO BLAME..... When you have a group of boys taking another boys clothes off. I BLAME THE PARENTS.....

Teachers can instruct, nurture,assist, be a brother, father, mother, mentor and etc. But it's the parents the child copies or watches. BELIEVE IT OR NOT. CHILDREN, THE MAJORITY OF THE TIME WILL PSYCHOLOGICALLY COPY OF THEIR PARENTS (good or bad) HABITS AND BEHAVIOR. It is the parents that child mimics the majority of the time. The parent should discuss values,loving one's self, self control, discipline and etc.

Alot of parents FAIL for not teaching their kids.

I don't want to use derogatory words but WHY did they take the boy's clothes off ????????

That's just perverted.....

I've worked with just about every grade level in japan. There are many warning signs kids given out before they are attacked or abused. Kids look withdrawn, upset & sad. You can see their expression on the child's face. I've seen children and teenagers tried to bully, upset, or disrupt me & the class when I'm teaching. I do not tolerate such behavior. I was punched by a Japanese Elementary school (Tsudanuma & Narashino, area Chiba) student 3 years ago. The kid never apologized to me and the school never disciplined this 7- 11 year old kid. Which he should have apologized to me and had a discussion about consequences punching people.

I've seen strong teachers, wimpy, lazy, shiftless, worthless and good teachers in America and Japan.

Alot of teachers CARE

I'm one of those teachers. I do care and if I do stop fights before it escalates.

But when you have selfish parents, idiots have babies, ( I'm ONLY talking about parents who don't care for the child's well being. ) abusive, verbally abusive, failures of communication and etc. It's hard to teach these kids because their influenced by their bad parents.

It's a battle for every teacher who is trying to make the world positive in her/his environment.

I can't stand lazy, lying about their credentials, robotic & shiftless teachers. ( YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE )

But I'm in it for the long haul.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

For a country that loves technology... where are the cameras?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

power to the teachers to be able to do something (without the monster parents coming to complain about their little Angel/demon) instead of today's "a teacher is your friend" > < But unfortunately there is a chance that some teachers might go nuts and have a power trip and just take it too far. But these days teachers are too afraid to do anything on the change the student might go back home to mummy and daddy and complain and mum and dad come thumping into school and make a big scene about their kid being dissiplined. Students these days go nuts on schools wayyyyyyyy too much and there is not much a teacher or anyone can do about it. I for one think teachers shud be allowed to dissipline and scold students without the fear or getting repremended for it (in moderation though). Also parents need to spend a little more time with their child at home and teach them rights from wrong, instead of leaving it up to their teachers. Parents these days want the teachers to be their ( second parents and teachers) Lazy ass parents.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The boy’s testimony further casts doubt on the efficacy of questionnaires as a means of dealing with bullying, some psychiatrists and education professionals claim"

Ummm... are they not anonymous? There could still be problems as bullies might guess who filled out a complaint, but still; I can just see the police, BOEs, and school Admins requiring name, grade, and class to be written on them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's sad but true - bullying is engrained in the Japanese culture and it's always been the victim's fault for having a reason to be bullied. That was always the Japanese mentality until recently. Now they don't know what to do because now it's the other way around. Unfortunately, I don't think the society sees bullying as a real issue yet. I really think the schools and the govt are trying to address the issue to quiet the victims' parents. But what sucks is no matter how much the school addresses the issue, if the parents don't give a shit, it will never end. The bullies don't think they're doing anything wrong because their own parents don't think it's wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bullying happens in every country and culture, Not just Japan, the problem may have for the most part harsher consequences as suicide is ingrained in the culture. it is sad indeed when a child feels the only way left is that one.

Start charging a few with Murder or manslaughter and trying them as adults.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I teach at junior high schools here in Japan, and one of the major problems is the teachers themselves. They're so desperate to be the kid's friends, so they sit with them between classes in the hallway, talk like them, get involved in their student friendships, etc. The students don't feel any sort of "fear" (not the right word, but I'm not sure what else to call it) of the teacher. It's so much easier to be their friend. The teachers are still fairly young, and don't want to feel like the "grownups", and being their friend means that you can just smile and shake your head when they act out. "Shouganai, shouganai. E, omae, kore yamete ne." is what I hear half the time, and it's not even really meant. Students talking louder than you in class? Try to talk louder, maybe give them a pointed look if you're feeling really brave.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

(Part 2) I have one JTE who is actually an old-school teacher. She stops the lesson multiple times a class when the kids even just open their mouth when they're not supposed to. She'll spend more time talking to them about why it's important to listen when others are talking, and why it's not alright to crumple up papers we've given them. She's trying to get them to learn about respect for others and themselves, and the reaction she's gotten from other teachers has been icy. I've even thought she was a bit too strict at times, but on the whole, she's 100% right in what she's doing. She's been trying to get the other teachers to co-operate with her, especially her support home room teacher, but he's one of the worst offenders. Young, trying to be cool with the kids, and they love him for it. Despite all that, it's taken almost a year, but the students are now finally starting to listen. The lessons are calmer, the kids are actually learning something, and I'm hearing more and more of them say that they like their English teacher. I think her words are finally starting to sink in with them, and I'm interested to see what happens next year when they have new teachers. My JTE will most likely be retiring at the end of this year to go into pushing for awareness of learning disabilities, so I'm curious to see if her message will stick with them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

(Part 3) The point I was trying to make was that the teachers are probably half the problem. They see the warning signs, but they don't do anything. I had a special education boy tell me that he was being bullied, and when I brought it up to other teachers, I was told that they were aware of the situation, but weren't stopping it because the bullied boy had been a jerk to the bullies during his first two years of junior high, and they were only planning to intervene if the bullying got violent. Whatever happened to teaching kids about taking the high road, or forgiving others and not taking revenge? I was told that the problem was going to be dealt with, as my JTE pressed the issue, but as far as I know, nothing has actually been done. Hundreds of thousands of yen are being spent at my schools printing up colourful brochures, posters, flyers, and questionairres about bullying, but when it actually happens, "oh, we'll do something when it gets worse". The ineffectiveness of it all just blows my mind.

(I think I write too much)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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