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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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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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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