Source: Japan Times

Explore more efforts to stop school bullying

Six years after a law on measures to stop bullying in schools was introduced, school officials and boards of education continue to come under criticism for inappropriate responses to bullying cases that have prompted the victims to take their own lives. We still see cases in which the lessons from the 2011 suicide of a junior high school boy in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, as a result of bullying by his classmates — which led to enactment of the legislation — do not appear to have been learned. Attempts by lawmakers to give more teeth to the efforts to stop bullying have stalled. It’s time to review if the anti-bullying measures under the law are serving their intended purpose.

In early June, a 14-year-old student at a junior high school in the city of Gifu fell to his death from a condominium after leaving a note hinting that he had been bullied by others at school. About a month earlier, a classmate handed a memo to their teacher charging that the victim was being bullied by other students. The teacher cautioned the students identified as bullies, but he did not share the information with senior officials at the school.

Concluding that the problem was resolved, the teacher then “lost” the memo — it was likely shredded. After the boy’s death, the school’s principal said the tragedy could have been prevented if the information about his bullying had been shared so the school could take organized action, and accused the teacher of not properly addressing the accusation made by the classmate.

The mother of a 13-year-old girl at a city-run junior high school in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, who committed suicide in December 2017 filed a damages suit against the municipal government last month, charging that the school neglected to take adequate steps against bullying of her daughter by fellow students. A third-party probe launched by the city’s board of education concluded in March that bullying by her classmates led to the girl’s suicide — and that a teacher in charge of her class had failed to take action when she complained of the bullying in a school survey.