Kumamoto: Catholic hospital against TV series that discriminates against “abandoned children”

Posted on February 13, 2014. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying, Orphanages | Tags: , , , |

01/31/2014 JAPAN

by Hisashi Yukimoto
Jikei Hospital leads the fight for life and the defence of children. In 2006, despite government opposition, it installed a “baby box” to stop abortions. Today, it slams a TV network for a controversial show that affects children abused and abandoned by their family.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – In order to stop discrimination against abandoned children, the Jikei Catholic Hospital in the city of Kumamoto, southern Japan, has called on national broadcaster Nippon Television Network (NTN) to stop a weekly drama series that focuses on children abandoned at such health care facilities.

“What we are concerned about now is not just children among families in general but caring for the wounded hearts of children who were abused at their homes before they joined children’s care facilities,” the hospital said in a statement.

Titled Mama Ashita Ga Inai (Mamma won’t be here tomorrow), the drama series deals with violated childhood. “Among those who were abused are cases of those who cannot escape from the impacts of trauma.”

In the series, children are called “post” and “locker” for the places where they left by their mothers.

Another word is “donki”, or “blunt instrument” in Japanese, because in one episode a mother hits her boyfriend with such a tool and was arrested before her daughter was brought to live in a care facility.

However, such words “stick into the hearts of the abused children like blades and can cause flashbacks”, the hospital said.

The protection of life and the defence of abandoned children are strongly felt in Japan, a country with the lowest birth rate in the world.

In November 2006, the Jikei Catholic Hospital installed a ‘baby box’ to save babies from abortion and abuse, and this despite government opposition.

The ‘box’, which includes a baby hatch, allows mothers in difficulty to leave their children in safety.

Although the modern “foundling wheel” has proved successful, it has not cut the number of abortions or abandoned minors.

When the ‘baby box’ was first installed, Shinzo Abe was prime minister in a previous administration.

Last year, after Abe came back to power, his government called on Japanese people to do more to boost the birth rate since the country’s “nests” are increasingly empty, threatening its economic well-being as well as workers’ pension plans.

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Bullied teenage boy jumps from school window in Yamagata

Posted on August 28, 2013. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

 AUG. 28, 2013 YAMAGATA —

A schoolboy who was injured after jumping out of a window at school may have been the victim of bullying, an investigation has found.

According to school authorities in Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, the findings come from a questionnaire that was circulated to staff and selected students after a 16-year-old boy jumped from a fourth floor window of a public school on Aug 23, TBS reported Wednesday. Police say the teenager was left unconscious following the fall, but has since regained consciousness.

In a statement to media, the school principal said: “The results of the questionnaire suggest that, among other causes, bullying may have been a contributing factor.” He said the boy had been the victim of mockery and had been subjected to “play fighting involving wrestling moves,” TBS reported.

The school has announced plans to survey all students again in an attempt to ascertain the scale of the problem. It plans to make the results of the questionnaire public in mid-September.

Japan Today

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Education ministry shocked by scale of corporal punishment

Posted on August 10, 2013. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , |

NATIONAL AUG. 10, 2013 – TOKYO —

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says it is stunned by the results of its questionnaire into the use of physical discipline in the nation’s schools, which suggest that cases of corporal punishment against pupils are far more numerous than previously thought.

According to the ministry, the questionnaire was prompted by national outrage following the suicide of a high school student in Osaka, who hanged himself on Dec 23 last year after enduring repeated beatings by his basketball coach at Sakuranomiya Senior High School. The boy told his mother he had been struck 30 to 40 times the day before he died, according to the Osaka Board of Education.

In an attempt to discover the scale of the problem, the ministry questioned students from both public and private schools to ascertain how many instances of corporal punishment had taken place in fiscal 2012. According to the investigation, 6,721 cases were revealed at 4,152 schools nationwide, representing a 13-fold increase on the official figures for the previous year, TBS reported.

Around 5,415 cases of physical violence against pupils were reported at the nation’s state schools alone, the ministry said. The massive increase in the number of cases has been attributed to a growing number of students who are complaining after incidents of corporal punishment, whereas before, they did not.

In a statement commenting on the results of the study, a ministry spokesperson said, “We are still reacting to the data, which has shown us how incomplete our understanding of the issue has been until now,” TBS reported.

Japan Today

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3 school bullies sent to child consultation center following suicide of victim

Posted on June 11, 2013. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

JUN. 11, 2013 -KANAGAWA —

Police in Kanagawa Prefecture said Tuesday that three junior high school students have been sent to a child consultation center following the suicide of a boy they bullied.

According to police, the second-grade students confessed to holding down and hitting the boy, also a second-grader, at a school in Yugawara in late February this year. TBS reported that the victim later took his own life at his home in April.

It is believed that his suicide was connected to the bullying he had suffered at school. In a questionnaire handed to students, several said they had seen the boy being bullied at least 40 times.

During questioning, the boys told investigators that they had bullied the deceased boy for fun, TBS reported.

At a press conference on Monday, the board of education responsible for the school apologized for failing to identify and deal with the bullying. A spokesman said that teachers at the school had not been aware the boy was being bullied.

Japan Today

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Panel recommends ‘moral education’ to counter school bullying, corporal punishment

Posted on February 27, 2013. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

 Feb. 27, 2013 – TOKYO —

An Education Ministry advisory panel has been convened to propose ideas for dealing with bullying and corporal punishment in Japan’s schools.

In response to student suicides caused by bullying and corporal punishment, which hit the headlines recently, the panel on Tuesday submitted education reform proposals to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Among their ideas was the introduction of morality lessons into the standard curriculum to teach children about the importance of life and right and wrong, TBS reported.

The proposal was made to solve the problem that schools and education professionals have “a different idea about the kind of guidance that should be offered to students,” a spokesperson said. Moral education will not be graded as a traditional subject, but will be taught under a new framework.

Other ideas included introducing systems to ensure that teaching staff and parents are aware of the need to immediately report all cases of bullying to the school authorities and appropriate boards of education, TBS reported. The panel also suggested that in serious cases that could not be solved locally, a third party association should be introduced to tackle the issue.

In response to physical assaults carried out by a basketball team coach on a student who later committed suicide, the board suggested a national set of guidelines for club activities. It also suggested that a system whereby students and guardians had easier access to consultations with the school or education board would minimize the danger of similar incidents being overlooked in the future.

Japan Today

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72 Osaka teachers (18% of Osaka schools) confess to hitting students in questionnaire

Posted on February 17, 2013. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , |

 Feb. 16, 2013 – OSAKA —

The Osaka Board of Education has carried out a survey of 185 public schools to assess the extent of physical discipline being administered by staff.

The questionnaire was distributed to education professionals at each school, and included questions about using physical violence in an attempt to motivate students.

Of the 185 schools involved in the survey, staff at 33 schools admitted to having hit students, TBS reported Saturday. The responses indicated that 72 staff members admitted to having committed a total of 115 acts of violence against students.

The board says it intends to send a similar questionnaire to students from all 185 schools by the end of the month.

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108 school judo class deaths but no charges, only silence

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

108 fatalities in Japan since 1983 (the highest of any sport); Zero Fatalities in American Judo during the same time period


Yasuhiko Kobayashi’s 15-year-old son had skipped judo practice.

According to Kobayashi, the boy’s teacher was furious and stood waiting for him at the gates of his junior high school in Yokohama. The teacher forced the boy into the gym and made him grapple one on one. The former All Japan judo champion choked the boy until he lost consciousness.

When the boy came to, the teacher choked him again until he went limp, and threw him to the floor with such force that he suffered severe internal bleeding in his brain, an injury known as an acute subdural hematoma.

The injury incurred on Dec. 24, 2004, left Kobayashi’s son unable to remember anything for almost two years, while the teacher was later transferred to another junior high school in the city in accordance with standard job transfers among public school teachers.

The incident alleged by Kobayashi’s parents is one of a spate of similar deaths and injuries in school judo classes in recent years reminiscent of the beating death of young sumo wrestler Takashi Saito during a disciplinary “training” session in 2007.

The parents of Koji Murakawa, a 12-year-old junior high school student in Shiga Prefecture, allege their son died from a similar injury in July 2009.

Murakawa complained to his instructor he had asthma. He was told to wear an antidust mask and made to spar with the instructor. The teacher reportedly violently threw him to the ground, also leaving the boy with a subdural hematoma.

Taken to a hospital, Murakawa was later pronounced brain dead. His body was covered with bruises, according to his parents.

“Subdural hematomas occur when the connection between the brain and the skull loosens and stretches the bridging vein,” explained Dr. Masato Noji of the neurosurgery department at Ashigarakami Prefectural Hospital in Kanagawa Prefecture.

“The result is severe internal bleeding within the brain. Such injuries are extremely traumatic and usually fatal. As a ringside boxing doctor, I was extremely surprised to learn that these sorts of injuries come from judo practice in schools.”

Dr. Ryo Uchida of Aichi University of Education is concerned about the frequency of deaths in school judo classes.

“Over the 27-year period between 1983 and 2009, 108 students aged 12 to 17 died as a result of judo accidents in Japanese schools, an average of four a year,” Uchida said. “This is more than five times higher than in any other sport. About 65 percent of these fatalities came from brain injuries. This is clear evidence of a dangerous trend in Japanese schools.”

The statistics are doubly alarming because they have no parallel in other developed nations.

A representative from the British Judo Association said, “to our knowledge, there have been no deaths or serious brain injuries in judo in the BJA.”

Dr. Robert Nishime, chairman of USA Judo’s Sports Medicine Committee, points to a dearth of safety procedures for judo classes at Japanese schools.

“There have been no known traumatic brain injury deaths attributed to judo for all participants under the age of 18,” Nishime said. “So there appears to be a significant difference in serious brain injury rates in the youth between the U.S. and Japan.”

Kobayashi, the father of the 15-year-old Yokohama boy, complained that the parents of children killed or severely injured in judo practice have been met by a wall of silence when pressing for convictions of the alleged perpetrators.

The police sought charges against his son’s teacher, but prosecutors dismissed the case. A judicial inquest panel concluded the dismissal was unreasonable, but prosecutors threw the case out for a second time.

“Not a single incident has resulted in criminal prosecution,” Kobayashi said.

In another incident, the parents of Ryo Tozawa, a first-year student at a high school in Akita Prefecture, allege his judo coach asphyxiated him in 2003 despite the boy’s pleas to stop. Prosecutors twice declined to follow up on the boy’s death after police pressed for charges.

Kobayashi and Murakami’s families founded the Japan Judo Accident Victims Association on March 27 to support victims and their families, and to lobby for improved training safety. They will hold a symposium in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on Sept. 12 to tie in with the World Judo Championships being held in Tokyo from Sept. 9 to 13.

One concern of the association is that new national curriculum reforms, known as Ikiru Chikara (The Zest for Living), will require all junior high school students to practice sumo, judo or kendo starting with the 2012 school year.

A 2009 All Japan Judo Federation study found that about 70 percent of junior high schools in Tokyo and Ibaraki Prefecture plan to make judo compulsory in 2012.

This concerns Uchida, who said he is unaware of any recent safety improvements and believes instructors have little regard for safety.

“As of 2012, it’s difficult to anticipate to what extent mortality levels will rise,” Uchida said.

However, because girls will also take part, the number of students participating in judo classes will roughly double.

“Consequently, without safety improvements, we can expect the mortality and serious injury rate to double accordingly,” he said.

While the All Japan Judo Federation remains silent on the issue, the head of the instruction department at judo’s spiritual home, the Kodakan Judo Institute in Tokyo, has been unable to hide his concerns.

Writing in the August issue of Budo magazine, Mikihiro Mukai argues: “Until now, the judo world has tried to hide things they perceive will be disadvantageous to them. But this trend will worsen the situation, even if we have many discussions about instruction methods, if there is even a single case of death or severe injury, that method is inadequate.

“There may well be some unfortunate accidents, but we as judo instructors must work to eradicate such problems,” he wrote.

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Bullied teen remains in coma / Boy unconscious since alleged assault by 3 classmates in January

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

SAITAMA–A 15-year-old boy who attended a middle school in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, has been in a coma since January after he was punched and kicked by three of his classmates, according to investigative sources.

The then second-year student had reportedly been a target of chronic bullying by the trio since enrolling in the middle school in 2010. The municipal school had acknowledged frequent troubles between the boy and the trio, but failed to recognize them as bullying before the incident, according to the sources.

The incident occurred on Jan. 5 during a winter recess. After finishing morning activities related to a sports club that the boy and the trio belonged to, the three told the boy to come with them to a city park where they allegedly punched and kicked him repeatedly. Noticing that the boy had stopped moving, one of the three called for an ambulance.

Prefectural authorities arrested the three later that day on suspicion of injurious assault. They were later sent to a juvenile reformatory.

The trio reportedly told the police they punched the boy because they “disliked the boy’s attitude,” claiming the beating was the result of a “one-on-one fight” rather than bullying by the group. Further investigation, however, led to the suspicion that the three likely assaulted the boy in turn while surrounding him.

The school did not acknowledge the boy had been bullied until it conducted a questionnaire-based survey among its students in January after the incident. Up to that point, the school had recognized altercations between the boy and the trio on eight occasions from April 2011 to December 2011, including a fight that broke out in class after the boy was teased by the trio. At that time, the teacher reprimanded both the boy and the trio, possibly unaware the boy had been bullied.

The survey, conducted among about 130 second-year students in mid-January at the request of the boy’s family, revealed alleged chronic bullying by the trio. Respondents reported they saw the boy frequently beaten by the trio and others immediately after they enrolled in the school in 2010. There were also reports of the boy being verbally abused with phrases such as “kimoi” (creepy) and “Don’t come near me.”

The boy also was forced to wade into a pond to retrieve a ball the trio threw into the water, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Thursday.

According to the municipal board of education, the incident occurred in the second term from September 2011 to December 2011. The trio threw a ball into a pond near the school, then ordered the boy to retrieve it. As the boy waded into knee-deep water, the three taunted him and took pictures with a cellular phone. They later showed the images to their friends for amusement.

The board of education also found the trio forced the boy to play a game involving money dubbed “the home run game,” in which the boy pitched a ball for the trio to hit. According to the rules established by the trio, the boy had to pay 500 yen every time they successfully hit the ball. The education board said it could not confirm whether the boy actually paid money.

The board of education now believes malicious bullying of the boy, including the above instances, occurred repeatedly.

Just after the January incident in which the boy fell into a coma, the board of education said there had been no bullying. It claimed to be unaware of the bullying until it conducted the survey later that month.

“Because we did not realize it was bullying at the time, we addressed the series of incidents on a case-by-case basis, as if it were an issue such as a quarrel. We apologize for our lack of awareness,” an official from the municipal board of education said.


Mother demands probe

The boy’s mother demanded the municipal board of education and the school conduct a thorough investigation, saying she “wanted to ask my son, but he can’t speak now.”

“Why couldn’t the school prevent the incident from occurring when it was aware of the troubles [between my son and his classmates]?” she said.

The boy has been hospitalized in a coma for eight months since the January incident. He has suffered cardiac arrest twice–just after the incident and again this spring. He was weaned from ventilatory support, but is still being fed through a tube. His mother goes to the hospital every day after work to take care of her son.

The mother recalled the boy had complained of a stomachache around last April and often missed school. Now she wonders if that might have had to do with bullying. But the boy started going to school again the following month because he “loved the club” he belonged to, according to the mother.

(Sep. 14, 2012)

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70,231 school bullying cases reported in 2011

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

NATIONAL SEP. 12, 2012 – TOKYO —
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on Tuesday said that the number of reported school bullying cases for fiscal 2011 decreased by 9.5% to 70,231. It also added that the number of cases reported was the lowest since the current survey methods were established in 2006.

However, a ministry spokesman added that a spate of bullying cases which hit headlines and sparked off a national debate this year, including the suicide of a schoolboy in Kansai, have led the government to conclude that its methods of identifying bullying may be inadequate, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Bullying occurred in 38% of all schools nationwide, according to the ministry’s survey, with the highest number being 33,124 cases in elementary schools. However, the ministry said only cases that were considered “resolved” or “approaching resolution” were reported, according to Sankei.

Reports of bullying were most prevalent in Kumamoto, which reported 32.9 cases per 1,000 children, and Oita, where 18.3 cases were reported per 1,000 students. The lowest number of reports per 1,000 students were made in Saga, with 0.6, and Fukushima, with 0.8.

The suicides of four students, including a widely publicized case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, were attributed to bullying, the ministry said.

Japan Today

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Boy dies in apparent suicide from bullying

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun
SAPPORO–A middle school student has fallen to his death from an apartment building in an apparent bullying-related suicide.

Police believe the 12-year-old male student jumped from the building in Sapporo to kill himself.

At about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday, a neighbor found the boy lying on the street in front of the building where he lived. The boy was then taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at about 8 a.m. from severe bodily injuries, sources said.

According to Hokkaido prefectural police and the Sapporo city education board, the boy’s belongings included what appeared to be a suicide note saying, “I want to die because I’ve been bullied.”

(Sep. 7, 2012)

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Antibullying guidelines released / Designated special advisers to provide expert advice on handling incidents

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , |

Jiji Press

The education ministry has published guidelines for a more comprehensive approach to dealing with school bullying by using experts.

In a bid to step up efforts to tackle the problem, the ministry plans to increase its budget request for related programs for the next fiscal year by about 2.7 billion yen from fiscal 2012 to about 7.3 billion yen.

Education minister Hirofumi Hirano said at a press conference Wednesday, “After serious cases in which students’ lives were at risk, we will face the issue directly and sincerely.”

The ministry plans as early as this month to start designating experts such as lawyers, former police officers and psychiatrists as special advisers.

The advisers will offer opinions on how to prevent and handle bullying incidents. Local boards of education will launch similar efforts.

In its budget request, the ministry said it plans to send clinical psychologists qualified as school counselors to all of the nation’s 9,835 public middle schools and 13,800 public primary schools, up 2,110 from fiscal 2012.

The list of schools with bullying problems that are regularly visited by government-appointed advisers recruited from among former school teachers will also be expanded.

The ministry aims to double the number of social workers to work between schools and the organizations that help schools and victims from 1,113 to 2,226.

An emergency information card with a 24-hour hotline number set by the ministry for school bullying counseling will be distributed nationwide to all primary, middle and high school students.


Shinagawa to suspend bullies

The education board in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward plans to step up the use of suspension orders to combat students who persist in bullying, it was learned Thursday.

The aim is to deter school bullying and provide some sense of security to victims, education board officials said.

All primary and middle schools in Shinagawa Ward will also carry out anonymous surveys on school bullying every month.

Under Japan’s School Education Law, local education boards can issue suspension orders to the guardians of students who repeatedly use violence at school.

However, no such suspensions were given in Tokyo in the five years through March 2011, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

(Sep. 7, 2012)

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Junior high school boy committed suicide over bullying in April 2011: education board

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

YATSUSHIRO, Kumamoto — A third-year junior high school student committed suicide in April 2011 after being bullied by his schoolmates, the education board here said on Sept. 10.

A memo found in a pocket of the 14-year-old boy’s clothing read in part, “It was grueling,” the education board said, adding that the memo had a list of names of several students who had apparently bullied him. The education board and his school interviewed the victim’s classmates, home room teacher and others as part of their investigations into the case. The investigations found that the boy had begun to be verbally abused and ostracized in his club activity in the first semester and in class in the second semester of the second year in junior high school.

The education board concluded that the students mentioned in the boy’s memo and other schoolmates had been engaged in the bullying. Several students and their guardians apologized to the bereaved family of the victim, according to the education board.

The education board said it had “refrained from announcing the findings at the request of the bereaved family.” But the education board decided to release the findings in time with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s fact-finding investigations into bullying. Toshikuni Takaue, chairman of the municipal education board said, “We truly feel sorry that we could not protect his precious life.”

September 11, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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Bullying countermeasures spreading at education boards after suicide in Otsu

Posted on August 20, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , , , |

Click here for the original Japanese story

Moves to curb school bullying are spreading across Japan in the wake of an incident in which a bullied second-year junior high school boy in the Shiga Prefecture city of Otsu committed suicide.

In the Otsu case, the boy’s school came under criticism for failing to detect signs of bullying, and conducting a sloppy probe after his suicide. By reinforcing intervention by prefectural and municipal education boards, education officials hope to curb bullying at an early stage.

The Mainichi Shimbun surveyed education boards in all 47 of Japan’s prefectures and in 20 major cities on their response to school bullying. In July, the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education informed some 2,200 public elementary, junior high and high schools under its jurisdiction to report the number of cases of bullying at schools — including suspected cases — as well as their response to these cases. Previously schools would report only the number of confirmed cases, three times a year.

“In light of the problem in Otsu, we felt it was necessary to expand our scope to avoid overlooking any signs of bullying,” an education board representative said. “We will follow up on cases in which bullying is suspected from September onwards, responding firmly.”

Previously at the Shizuoka Prefectural Board of Education, only serious cases of bullying were reported to board members, but in July, Superintendent of Education Toru Abe declared that all future cases would be reported. It emerged that in one case, bullying at a prefectural high school had continued for about a year, and the perpetrator was suspended, but the prefectural education board office didn’t deem the case serious, and refrained from reporting it. This sparked calls for greater transparency.

“We had restricted the number of reports to avoid an information overload, but as we reviewed our response to bullying cases, we decided that this wasn’t appropriate. If there are any insufficiencies in the office’s response we want board members to give us instructions from a broad perspective,” a board representative said.

To encourage a speedy response from schools, the Nara Prefectural Board of Education has produced a quick response manual for educators, while the Kyoto and Tottori prefectural education boards and the Fukuoka Municipal Board of Education are revising their past manuals.

The Shiga Prefectural Board of Education has instructed schools where past cases of bullying were detected to conduct new inspections. The Ibaraki Prefectural Board of Education, meanwhile, has confirmed that it will actively report criminal behavior to police.

Eiichi Kajita, former president of Hyogo University of Teacher Education, commented, “Education board secretariats should properly share information, and board members should be aware of their responsibility and frankly discuss the problems together, each member fulfilling his or her role. It’s important that teachers and schools don’t bottle up their problems, but maintain the awareness they are raising children together.”

August 20, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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More bullying victims turning to police to file criminal charges

Posted on August 20, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

Aug. 19, 2012 – TOKYO —

Police have been called in to take action in 11 cases of bullying nationwide in the past month, according to the National Police Agency.

The filing of criminal charges by bullying victims is believed to be the result of a high-profile case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in which three bullies were blamed for the suicide of a 13-year-old boy last October. More victims have started to speak out against their tormentors now that bullying has become a national talking point.

Public broadcaster NHK reported that in the past month, police were consulted on bullying that included victims suffering broken bones and cases in which photos and video of acts of violence were posted online.

In the most recent case, a junior high school boy in Tokyo filed criminal charges against his classmates after he sustained broken ribs in a bullying incident. In other cases, a high school boy in Sendai sustained 20 cigarette burns to his arms, and a junior high school boy reportedly took a video of himself bullying a primary school boy in Hyogo and uploaded it to the Internet. The video was viewed around 180,000 times, NHK reported.

Last month, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology announced plans to conduct a nationwide survey of all public elementary and junior high schools in an attempt to ascertain the prevalence and nature of bullying in the nation’s public schools.

On Aug 2, the ministry also launched a taskforce dedicated to supporting schools as part of its drive to stamp out bullying.

The taskforce consists of staff from departments currently dealing with bullying, national educational policy researchers and experts from the National Police Agency.

Japan Today

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19-year-old man held over attack on Otsu education board head

Posted on August 16, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

Aug. 16, 2012 – 06:45AM JST

Police on Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old man for allegedly trying to kill the superintendent of the Otsu Board of Education in Shiga Prefecture.

According to police, the suspect, who cannot be named because he is a minor, attacked Kenji Sawamura, 65, with a 30-cm-long hammer in his office shortly before 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Sawamura suffered a gash above his right eye, police said. Office staff subdued the suspect until police arrived.

The suspect was quoted by police as saying he wanted to kill Sawamura because of the way he covered up the bullying incident that led a 13-year-old boy to commit suicide last October, TV Asahi reported.

Police reported that the suspect is from Saitama where he attends a university. Besides the hammer, he also was carrying a piece of wire about 70 cms long, with small pieces of wood attached to each end, TV Asahi reported.

Sawamura and the education board came under heavy criticism last month for their handling of the bullying case at the school.

The father of the boy who committed suicide has filed a damages suit against the school and board of education which initially said there was no link between the bullying two weeks before the boy’s death, even though two questionnaires given to students after the boy’s suicide revealed that at least 60 students had witnessed the bullying.

After the questionnaires became public knowledge, both the school and board reversed their stance and said they believed bullying led to the boy killing himself by leaping from a building.

Sawamura was also criticized for going on a 5-day business trip to Australia last Nov 6, which was two days after the board received the results of the second questionnaire on bullying.

Japan Today

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High school student arrested for breaking classmate’s back

Posted on August 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

AUG. 10, 2012 – HIROSHIMA —
Police said Thursday that a junior high school student in Hiroshima has been arrested after he allegedly broke a classmate’s back in June.

According to police, the 15-year-old boy was with four friends in a school corridor on June 22 during recess when several of them picked up the victim, TBS reported. The youth then allegedly kneed him in the back. Police say the boy suffered a broken bone in his lower back.

Following the alleged assault, the school principal publicly apologized for failing to protect the boy. The school subsequently distributed a questionnaire to students, the results of which suggested that the victim had been bullied regularly by his assailant.

The boy and his parents filed a complaint with police on July 17. The arrested youth denies any intent to harm the victim, TBS reported.

Japan Today

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Bullied boy’s parents file criminal charges

Posted on August 9, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , |

The parents of a 16-year-old boy in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, have filed charges against classmates who bullied him at school.

The case follows the high profile suicide of a bullied junior high school student from Otsu in Shiga Prefecture which hit headlines nationwide.

Fuji TV reported Tuesday that since last November, the boy was punched and had his arm burned with cigarettes over 20 times. In July, the bullying had become so severe that the boy could no longer attend school.

The boy’s parents told reporters that the school felt the boy’s burns were disturbing other students and subsequently asked him to leave the school, Fuji reported. The school has so far refused to comment to media.

Following his expulsion, the boy’s parents said they decided to take action to force his assailants to confess to bullying him.

In the Japanese media, the filing of criminal charges is being taken as a sign that students are becoming more likely to speak out against their tormentors now that bullying has become a national talking point.

Police say an investigation into the nature of the alleged bullying is now underway.

Japan Today

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Bullying – the problem that won’t go away

Posted on August 6, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: |

Bullying—is it insoluble, human nature being what it is? Or are school authorities simply too busy, too pressured, too spineless, too concerned with their schools’ image, to face it squarely?

The suicide last October in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, of a 13-year-old second-year junior high school boy who had been relentlessly bullied by classmates while teachers looked the other way reminds us how little progress has been made over the past 30 years. “Schools,” says Chiba University education scholar Daisuke Fujikawa, “are not learning the lessons of the past.”

The education ministry officially recognizes some 77,000 “ijime” (bullying) cases a year – “the tip of the iceberg,” says Josei Seven (Aug 9). Should bullying be made a crime? In raising the question, the magazine reviews some of the tortures that apparently drove the boy to jump to his death from his family’s 14-story apartment building last October. They include routine beatings, the forced eating of dead bees, forced shoplifting, and, most notoriously, “suicide practice.” It certainly sounds criminal on the face of it, and Josei Seven detects a groundswell of feeling that the full force of the law is the only language kids who go in for that sort of thing would understand.

A counterargument is raised by Kinokuni Children’s Village Free School principal Shinichiro Hori. A “free school” is an alternative facility for kids who, whether because of bullying or for other reasons, are unable to cope with regular school. “Kids who bully others do it because their hearts are disturbed,” Hori writes. “With society foisting its ideals on them – good marks, for example – they can’t breathe. Their hearts don’t get enough oxygen. So you can punish them, or threaten them, and it might have some effect, but it doesn’t go to the root of the problem.”

What would? Nothing short of a fundamental reform of education, in his view.

“More important than anything is that children should be happy, absorbed, interested. For that to happen, teachers have to be passionate about what they do. But as it is, they’re too burdened with administrative responsibilities. Teachers need to be free to use their imaginations. Without a radical change in the top-down approach to education, I don’t see how the problem can be solved.”

Three boys in particular are considered ringleaders in the torments endured by the victim. Two have moved; the third remains in Otsu but has stopped going to school. From acquaintances, Josei Seven hears the three show no sign of repentance or reflection, no sense of having done wrong.

School kids tormenting each other must be as old as school, but “ijime” as a social problem – ordinary rough-housing getting seriously out of hand and drawing national attention – dates to the February 1986 suicide of a 13-year-old Tokyo boy who hanged himself in a shopping center washroom. He left a suicide note which mentioned, among other tortures he endured, “mock funerals” – complete with flowers and incense – with himself as mock corpse. The similarity to the “suicide practice” in Otsu 26 years later is unmistakable – a reflection of how little has changed.

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Woman arrested for beating 8-year-old son

Posted on August 6, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

Aug. 04, 2012 OSAKA —

Police said Friday they have arrested a 29-year-old woman in Osaka for allegedly beating her 8-year-old son.

The woman, who has been named as Chisato Kuroki, was arrested by police at her home on Thursday after her husband reported that she had been abusing the couple’s son, Fuji TV reported.

Officers arrived at the couple’s Minato Ward apartment at around 5 p.m., 15 minutes after receiving the call, and found the boy had sustained an injury due to allegedly being punched by his mother moments earlier. Kuroki was arrested at the scene.

On Friday, members of staff at the boy’s school said they had noticed bruises on his back and torso previously and that the school had notified a juvenile consultation center, Fuji reported.

Kuroki was quoted by police as saying she hit her son because he wouldn’t listen to her.

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Education minister announces creation of anti-bullying task force

Posted on July 27, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , |

TOKYO — July 26th, 2012
Hirofumi Hirano, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, has announced government plans to introduce an
anti-bullying task force within the ministry.

Hirano told a news conference that the task force is to be responsible for identifying cases of serious bullying at an early stage, liaising with schools and education boards, advising education professionals and preventing recurrence, TBS reported Wednesday.

The education ministry also announced plans to carry out an emergency survey of all elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan next month in an attempt to establish the scale of the problem and to draw up appropriate counter-measures.

The new anti-bullying task force will come into effect in early August.

Japan Today

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5 junior high boys arrested over brutal bullying of fellow student

Posted on July 26, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , |

NEYAGAWA, Osaka — Five junior high school students have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting a 14-year-old boy, including breaking his nose and lighting his hair on fire, the Osaka Prefectural Police announced on July 25.

The five boys — three 15-year-olds and two 13-year-olds — were quoted as telling police that “bullying (the victim) was just so much fun that we kept on doing it.” The boy went to the same school as the five accused.

The five are suspected of using a cigarette lighter to set fire to the victim’s hair at a local public park on May 20 this year — an incident one of the accused apparently filmed with his mobile phone — and punching him in the face and breaking his nose on May 28. According to police, the victim has also said he had been “giving the boys several thousand yen a month” since his first year of junior high school.

According to investigators, on May 26 the accused allegedly ordered the 14-year-old to “catch a koi” in a local river. When the boy complied, getting his trousers wet, the suspects then ordered him to “go steal some trousers hanging out to dry.” The boy was, however, caught before he could get away with the garment and taken into police custody.

Later, the suspects allegedly accused the 14-year-old of telling the police their names, and on the grounds of a Shinto shrine close to the school at least one of the suspects punched the victim in the face, breaking his nose. The incident came to light when the 14-year-old’s homeroom teacher noticed the bruises on his face and informed the school principal, who in turn consulted with police.

At a July 25 news conference, representatives of the Neyagawa Municipal Board of Education told reporters that teachers had noticed the victim was being pushed around by classmates during his first year in junior high, and that he had been moved to a different class the next school year.

“The bullying was obvious, but in the end the school was unable to prevent violence,” a senior board representative stated. “We are deeply sorry to the victim and his parents.”

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Police refuse father’s complaints about bullies linked to son’s suicide

Posted on July 8, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

JUL. 08, 2012 – OTSU —
The father of a boy who committed suicide in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, due to bullying was denied the opportunity to file a complaint about his son’s assailants.

The then 13-year-old boy committed suicide by jumping from the roof of an apartment building in October of last year, according to Fuji TV. The Shiga Prefecture Board of Eduction conducted a survey among the boy’s classmates, which suggested he had been the victim of a series of assaults and sustained campaign of bullying.

The father of the boy took the survey results and other evidence to the police in an attempt to lodge a complaint against his assailants, Fuji reported. However, the man said that Otsu police have refused to accept the complaint on three occasions, claiming that complaints cannot be lodged in the event that the victim is deceased and was not murdered. They also said the boy left no suicide note indicating what might have driven him to kill himself.

Otsu police say they plan to investigate the circumstances leading up to the boy’s death.

Japan Today

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Visiting prefectural offices

Posted on December 17, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , |

I visited 9 prefectural buildings this week. That brings my total to 33 prefectures since September of this year. I gave the same short presentation at every child welfare office. Children First has 3 goals. Stop bullying. Stop abuse. Joint Custody. The focus of my presentation was on joint custody as most people are aware of abuse and bullying. Those stories make the news often. I spoke about the dysfunctional family courts. I gave everyone a copy of Colin Jones’ book about the family courts. Everyone received information about my cycling tour and what I am trying to do. I gave the child welfare departments a copy of the Osaka City Governments request to the diet to consider joint custody for Japan. We talked about the UNCRC and the secret Supreme Court DVD. They also received facts such as the average visitation after divorce is 4 hours per month. Japan is the only G-7 country without joint custody. Every 3 minutes a child loses contact with one parent due to divorce. I made a personal request that the governor consider sending a joint custody request to Tokyo just like Osaka did.

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3 junior high school boys arrested for bullying in Shiga

Posted on November 17, 2011. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

Crime Nov. 17, 2011 – Japan Today


Police said Thursday that three 15-year-old boys in Takashimaya City, Shiga Prefecture, have been arrested for bullying after they reportedly forced another student to strip naked and defecate while they filmed him with cell phones on Nov 11.

According to a report on Fuji TV, the boys are also accused of assaulting the victim and throwing him to the ground. It is believed that aside from the three boys who were arrested, several other students had participated in bullying the victim. Police say the school plans to discipline the other students involved.

A spokesperson for the school said that details about the incident are not yet clear, but said they plan to investigate the exact nature of events before introducing measures to ensure this kind of thing does not happen again, Fuji reported.


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Japan and the rights of children: Kevin Brown from Children First

Posted on September 11, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying, Japanese Family Law, Parental Alienation Syndrome, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , |

Kevin Brown – Special Contribution

Modern Tokyo Times

My name is Kevin Brown and I am the co-founder of Children First (http://www.childrenfirst.jp), an NPO that advocates for children in Japan. Children Firsts mission “is to ensure children’s welfare and rights are the top priority for parents, policymakers and the public-at-large.” Therefore, the role of Children First applies to many factors related to the rights of children in Japan and how to relate this knowledge to appropriate bodies in order to tackle and focus on areas which need changing in order to protect children.

Children First also understands the need to raise awareness and to connect with organizations, government bodies and the general public. Therefore, our next campaign is to interact with the general public and local government offices. In order to do this I am going to ride my bike from Kumamoto to Tokyo and throughout my journey I will be raising the issue of the rights of children.

My ride will begin on September 13th and end on October 17th. Therefore, I will visit many prefectural offices during my journey and give a short presentation about the rights of children. In the past I have already visited 8 prefectural offices and given presentations about serious issues related to children. This proved beneficial and often they were unaware about serious issues related to the rights of children. Therefore, it was a great chance to interact with people of importance and to develop ties between Children First and local government bodies.

During the meetings we talked about a DVD made by the Supreme Court of Japan in 2006. The message in the DVD is quite simple. To be happy, children need both parents after divorce when both parents care about bringing up their child or children in the right way. The Supreme Court made the video but the Family Courts don’t show the video because of factors only known to them but is doesn’t make sense to ignore the Supreme Court. More surprisingly the Family Courts hide the existence of the video, therefore, the majority of parents don’t know about the importance of this video and the ones that do, are often not allowed to see it.

Another important piece of information I give to prefectural offices relates to the United Nations Convention on the Right of a Child (UNCRC). This Convention was signed and ratified by Japan and it states that children have the right to maintain contact with both parents. If the parent and child are separated for some reason then the state (Japan) must help re-establish contact with the non-custodial parent. The Family Courts also ignore this Convention, which is equivalent to a law which was ratified by the Japanese government.

Alongside this important information I also give prefectural offices a book written by Colin Jones, a law professor in Kyoto, related to the Family Court system. This book is about the Family Court system in Japan and it highlights the inadequacies of this institution. For citizens who support the rights of the child/children and both parents, then they would agree that the rulings handed down by judges are detrimental to the well-being of children in Japan. The Family Courts are not acting in the best interests of children because they are not considering all the facts and the wishes of each individual involved in each case. Family Courts need to revise their outdated laws and implement laws which are clear and which focus on human rights.  This applies to the well-being of children and all involved parties in each respective case.

Children First also talks about Parental Alienation (PA) which is common in hostile divorces and this issue is very serious in Japan because of the inadequate legal system. This is when one parent says something bad to the child/children about the other parent in order break the bond that the other parent had and. It is clear that this manipulation is very damaging to all children who face this serious issue. According to child psychology experts there are different degrees of PA ranging from mild to severe. The main point being, PA is bad for children irrespective of the degree. Recently Brazil passed a law making PA a crime and it would be great if more countries did the same thing because this is a huge step in the right direction.

Another important area that Children First gives to prefectural offices is a “Did you know” hand out about statistics in Japan. “DID YOU KNOW: Every 3 minutes a child loses contact with one parent because of divorce…Every 7 minutes a child is a victim of school bullying…Every 12 minutes a case of child abuse is reported to protective services…Every week at least one child dies as the result of abuse.”

This is a great way to raise awareness quickly and not only is it interactive and easily understood but it is also designed to shake up a system which needs to make major changes, in order to protect children from abuse.

Every year around 160,000 children lose contact with one parent in Japan. However, to make matters worse Japan is not a good place for children who get caught up in divorce when one parent decides to control and alienate the child/children from the left behind parent. Government officials, bureaucrats, educators, and parents need to do more to make Japan a better place for all children and this is where Children First wants to help.

You can help Children First (Kevin Brown) raise awareness by following me on Facebook during my journey. Therefore, people can communicate with me through Facebook, share links with your friends and spread the word because together we can make a difference.

Children First cares for all children irrespective of race and gender because our goal is to bring more “light” to children who have been neglected and had their rights violated.

Please follow on http://www.facebook.com/oyako (Joint Custody in Japan) and Children First at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379. Also, please visit Children First website at http://www.childrenfirst.jp/ for more information and how you can get involved and help in this important area.

Sincerely, Kevin Brown (Children First http://www.childrenfirst.jp/)


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Number of school bullying cases rises 3.5 percent in fiscal 2010

Posted on August 5, 2011. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , |

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The number of bullying cases recognized by public and private primary, junior high and high schools across Japan in the 2010 school year ended in March this year rose 3.5 percent from a year earlier to 75,295 cases, an education ministry survey showed Thursday.

That was the first increase in five years as the number of bullying cases had been falling since fiscal 2006 when the ministry began collecting such data.

The total does not include data from the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima as the March 11 earthquake made it impossible to incorporate data from the prefectures, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said.

The average rate of bullying cases being “resolved” by school authorities following detection was 79.1 percent, the ministry said.

Last November the ministry sent an advisory to education boards at Japan’s 47 prefectures, asking them to make sure that all schools implement a questionnaire-based survey to detect bullying after a 12-year-old schoolgirl who was bullied by schoolmates at her school in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture committed suicide.

Consequently the rate of schools conducting such polls shot up to 90.4 percent, up 24.5 percentage points from a year earlier and, as a result, the ministry now feels it’s possible to shed light on the real scale of the problem, a ministry official said.

By level, the number of bullying cases at primary schools totaled 35,988, at junior high schools 32,348, and at high schools 6,617, according to the survey.

Regarding types of bullying, ridiculing and slandering topped the list at 66.7 percent, with shunning next at 20.7 percent. Internet-related bullying through personal computers or e-mail via mobile phones accounted for 3.9 percent.

The number of students who committed suicide during fiscal 2010 came to 147, down 18 from the previous year. Of them, four junior high school students were found to have been bullied.

In a related development, the ministry said it sent an advisory to education boards in all 47 prefectures, asking them to make sure that schools follow up with face-to-face meetings with students once a survey detects they are being bullied.

The advisory said there are differences in degree among schools as to the seriousness of their efforts to shed light on the real situation relating to bullying, adding the ministry “is worried that there may be cases where schools have not been able to recognize cases of bullying.”

The number of violent acts in or out of school premises stood at 58,899 cases, or 4.4 cases per every 1,000 students, up 0.1 cases from a year earlier.

The number of elementary and junior high school students who failed to attend classes for 30 days or more in fiscal 2010 totaled 114,971, down from 122,432 a year earlier.

(Mainichi Japan) August 5, 2011

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Bullying-related complaints, child abuse cases hit record highs in 2010

Posted on March 11, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , , |


Complaints over school authorities’ inappropriate responses to bullying and cases of child abuse addressed under a Justice Ministry program to remedy human rights violations both reached record highs in 2010, the ministry said Friday.

The number of bullying-related complaints jumped 51.9 percent from the previous year to 2,714 and abuse cases grew 6.3 percent to 771, it said.

‘‘The number of cases directly reported by affected children grew. It is possible that they brought to light underlying cases,’’ said an official of the ministry’s Human Rights Bureau.

The total number of human rights violations has remained at the 20,000 level since 2004. In 2010, the total came to 21,696, up 2.3 percent from the previous year.

Cases of violence and abuse accounted for the largest number of the total human rights violations at 4,788, down 6.1 percent from 2009.

Cases of privacy violation remained almost unchanged at 1,752, with online harassment accounting for 40 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, a case of sexual abuse of a girl by her own father surfaced in one of the ‘‘children’s human rights SOS’’ letters that the ministry’s legal affairs bureaus have distributed to elementary and junior high schools across Japan since 2007. The child was promptly taken into protective custody, the ministry said.

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Anti-bully rules being ignored / 20% of school boards don’t meet standard on suspending bad eggs

Posted on January 23, 2011. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, municipal boards of education in 389 cities, towns and villages have not established procedures to suspend students for bullying or violent behavior at school, despite being required by law to do so, according to the education ministry.

Stories like this don’t surprise me any more. I have always been under the philosophy of “Let’s do something even if it is wrong”. If it doesn’t work then we try something different. Sitting by and not making any changes (in my opinion) is the worst thing you could do in this situation. Children need protection. Children are the foundation of the future. To read the entire article click on the link below.

Anti-bullying law ignored by schools

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NGO report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Bullying, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Children of foreign Nationals do not enjoy their own languages and cultures. (page 19)

Adequate attention has not been paid to the best interests of the child in policy decision making. (page 21)

Measures against violence at schools are going against the convention rather than just being sufficient (page 27)

Separation of child from parents against the best interests of the child (page 28)

Family reunification in the best interests of the child (page 29)

Bullying continues to be a big problem (page 43)

Human Rights and Child Rights has gone rather backward (page 46)

Letters to the UN Committee from children who attend Free School (page 68)

Jan. 2010 CRIN report on Japan

General Research Institute of the Convention on the Right of the child

phone: 81332034355     email: npo_crc@nifty.com       2-6-1 Midorigaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0034

Chief Secretary: Shigeto Aramaki (aramaki@ygu.ac.jp)

National Coordinator: Ayako Okochi (momomokoki@mtf.biglobe.ne.jp)

International Coordinator: Yuji Hirano (yujihirano@nifty.com)

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Gov’t to launch survey on school bullying after 12-yr-old girl’s suicide

Posted on January 18, 2011. Filed under: Bullying, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , , |

The education ministry said Wednesday that it will conduct a nationwide survey of bullying in schools following the suicide last month of sixth-grader Akiko Uemura, in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture. Uemura’s mother found the 12-year-old hanging by a scarf from a curtain rail in her room Oct 23. It is believed the girl took her own life due to bullying at school that apparently started sometime last year after her mother, who is from the Philippines, visited the school for an event.

After an initial denial, Niisato Higashi Elementary School admitted Monday she had been a frequent target of abuse by classmates. The education ministry said it has told prefectural boards of education to conduct periodic surveys on bullying. The ministry also urged schools and local-level authorities to cooperate with families of schoolchildren to deal with the problem.

To read the full story in Japan Today, click on the link below.

Death due to Bullying

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