The revised version of the anti-bullying bill drafted by the Liberal Democratic Party last January has been approved by delegates from Japan’s main parties and is expected to be passed in the current Diet session. The bill establishes a zero-tolerance approach to all kinds of bullying.
Under the bill, schools are required to set up systems that will deal with bullying more effectively. Boards of education are also given leeway to investigate the more serious cases of abuse, especially ones that are putting the student’s life in danger, and they are also allowed to reveal the results of the investigation to the parents and the victims of bullying. If proven guilty, bullies in schools will be required to take classes in separate classrooms. If the board of education cannot gather enough data for their investigation, the local government can get third-party organizations to help out in the serious cases.
Last month, the Ministry of Education released to a list of specific acts of bullying that could and should be reported to the police as they constitute criminal offenses. There has been some confusion as to what behavior could be turned over the authorities and so the ministry came up with a list given to prefectures and boards of education. This was also due to an alarming increase of both unreported and reported cases of bullying in schools, which have led to a number of suicides in the last few years. Some of the acts in the list are hitting and screaming (which is equivalent to assault), “intentionally wrecking a bicycle”, and various acts of cyberbullying.
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