The suicide of a junior high school student in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture in April is believed to have been caused by bullying. Three junior-high schoolmates confessed that they held down and hit the boy, who was of the same grade. When asked for their reason, the three boys claimed that they bullied the victim for fun. All three were sent to a child consultation center after the incident.
Students at the boys’ school were handed a questionnaire regarding the bullying. Some claimed to have seen the boy hurt not less than forty times. Despite the amount of abuse suffered by the boy, a spokesman of his school said that no teacher had been aware of the boy being bullied. It could either mean the bullies were so good in choosing the timing of their acts, or the teachers at the school were simply indifferent to students who get bullied.
Suicides related to bullying are not new in Japan. Had the boy asked for help from any of his teachers but got rejected, it’d be another case similar to what happened last year, also in Kanagawa. Back in December, a 13-year old girl in Machida committed suicide at the Zama station. She told her homeroom teacher of the bullying she suffered but was dismissed and thought to have only complained of some misunderstanding with fellow students. Early this year, the city of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture finally admitted that the suicide of a 13-year old boy back in 2011 was a result of bullying so severe that he was even forced to “practice” killing himself.
Likewise, bullying is also not something new among Japanese schools. The Ministry of Education even received more than 144,000 reports of bullying within 6 months, which means there were about 6,000 bullying incidents every week during the given period. It has always been prevalent that bullying has become so common in dramas, movies and literature, which may mirror or exaggerate the Japanese society and education system.
Despite being a chronic problem, bullying in Japan remains unsolved. It also seems to have become so banal that schools are becoming callous to bullying. The board of education which is responsible for the boy’s school in Yugawara apologized on Monday during a press conference for being unable to identify and deal with the situation. Still, the fact remains that the boy can no longer be brought to life. And should Japan’s education system remain tolerant of bullying, more children are sure to suffer.