The case against two teenagers in Shiga Prefecture who bullied a classmate so badly that he committed suicide has moved on to public prosecutors. In the case that made headlines across Japan, where three boys abused a 13 year old so far as making him “practice” his own death, two of the 15 year olds will be tried as adults, while the third has been sent to a child consultation center.
This decision, released on Saturday, is in itself significant, as the bullies are minors, being only 14 last October when the victim jumped off a roof, and these kind of cases usually end up going to family courts. As the case that has finally awakened the Japanese public to the widespread issue of bullying in the nation’s schools, the victim was repeatedly tortured over a significant period of time. He was regularly beaten in the bathrooms, forced to eat dead bees, had his pants pulled down in the classroom, and had to shoplift and steal money for his abusers.
A widespread police investigation turned up that the students’ teacher repeatedly did nothing about the situation, even dismissing it as “play” when other classmates said the school needed to step in. Teachers’ notes from school meetings were analyzed by police, and hundreds of students in the same grade level were interviewed. The victim’s parents filed a lawsuit against the Otsu city government and the three bullies in February, with the school denying it had any knowledge of the bullying, and saying that there was no direct link to the boy’s suicide and his abuse. After police searched the school and local board of education for evidence, officials finally admitted that they hadn’t done enough to stop or prevent the situation.
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