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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Japanese Junior High School Students Biggest Bullies

Perhaps that headline should be amended to read: ... Japanese junior high school students biggest bullies to get caught.The photo shows a different type of bull-y.

According to figures released earlier this month by the National Police Agency, 80 per cent of all of the students charged with bullying AT school in the first half of 2012, were junior high school students.

A total of 125 students - primary, junior and high-school - were charged, which is an increase by 38 of the 87 charged from 2011 figures for the same period of January through June.

These numbers are for students actually taken into police custody, arrested, or given warnings by the police:

Primary School (Grades 1-6):         9 students;
Junior High School (Grades 7-9):    103 students;
High School (Grades 10-12):         13 students.

While figures given did not reflect gender, of all students involved, 118 were categorized by police as bullies; 7 were classified as victims taking revenge.

Other facts based on this data:
61 students (51.7%) were charged on suspicion of inflicting injury;
19 students were charged with extortion or blackmail;
16 students charged with assault;
7 students charged with forced sexual contact.

Of the 47 prefectures, Akita-ken had the most offenders, the better police enforcement, or better luck at getting kids to admit they are being bullied.

I'm actually surprised that these overall numbers are not higher. As with any instances of bullying, it's what you don't see is what's disturbing.

I was bullied through high school. My parents had no clue. Other students did. Some participated, others ignored it. Teachers must have seen it, but chose to look blindly away. And so it continued. Until I got big enough to stand-up for myself. And thus by opposing, end them.

And how bad would it have been had I lived somewhere where weapons were readily available? I wasn't violent then, but I sure wanted to kill every single last person who taunted me.

What is worse? Doing the bullying or not doing something about it? In my opinion - very little. Shared guilt by association and disassociation.

I'm not naive enough to suggest that bullying did not exist while I was a junior high school English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan back in the early 1990s. I may legitimately not have seen it.

Trust me. As someone who has been bullied, and has the confidence and attitude and the physical strength to do something about it, I would have stepped in. But I never saw it.

I do know that all seven of my schools selected classroom leaders who were expected and trusted by the teachers and fellow students to keep everyone on the up and up... to ensure that everyone behaves the way they are expected to behave... though I believe that failed miserably at one school - Kaneda Kita Chu - though there were enough great students there to have some hope, as I frequently saw quiet kids 'lose it' and tell the troublemakers to behave. It was sad but inspiring.

Being bullied... changes you. For the worse, for the better and sometimes for both. For every kid that gets bullied and then seeks his or her revenge - a part of me wants to shout with glee.

But I don't and I can't. Violence begets violence. Forgive but don't forget. And move-on. You can be damn sure that any person who has bullied or wronged another - they rarely ever go back and think about what they have done. The victims... they tend to wallow in their own misery until they do something about it... whether that means revenge, therapy, forgiveness, forgetting about it and living or death, or other things that people do to cope ...

Only 125 charges, huh? You have to start somewhere, I suppose.

The fact that the middle school kids were the chief culprits is also little surprise. Hormones. Just becoming teenagers. Everything's crazy. That's not an excuse for their behavior, just something to keep in mind should you worry that the Japanese junior high school system is going down the Western-style toilet.

It's not. Kids are bombarded with violent images all the time - more so with things readily available and more available - with the Internet, social media, television, movies, manga et al. It's immaturity. Some kids are just better able to control themselves than others. That doesn't excuse their behavior, though.

Oh... and for my friends in Tochigi-ken... they were ranked 34th in trouble-makers.

You can see a Japanese-language You Tube video below that shows the ranking of each of the 47 prefectures.

Andrew Joseph

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