A Japanese private investigator who specializes in helping parents whose children have been bullied in school has spoken up and revealed the kind of cases he has worked with over the years. Bullying has undoubtedly become a major concern in Japan over the last few years. And with the advent of digital technology being very common even in elementary school students, the kind of evidence the investigator has had to work with has become that much more sophisticated.
Hirotaka Abe has specialized in helping parents when their child is victimized by bullies at school, mainly by investigating the allegations and gathering evidence. Abe says that teachers are often hesitant to deal with an issue that is outside of their educational responsibilities, even if they notice a problem developing between their pupils. The ineffectivity of schools in dealing with bullying has led to the development of a subsection of the private investigation industry that specializes in handling such incidents. “I used to be a pretty bad kid when I was that age,” Abe says, alluding to the ages in elementary and high school whose students are the targets in his line of work. But even he is surprised at the things that he discovers when modern minors show and tell of what they do to each other. “Some of it goes beyond what you could classify as bullying, and moves into outright crime.”
Abe says that he has seen repeated physical violence done by classmates to a student whom they have marked as weak. He has also witnessed extortion from students of amounts totaling to as much as 1 million yen (around US$10,000), and high school girls being forced and bullied into enjo kosai – literally “compensated companionship” – which run from basic escort services to prostitution. Abe has also dealt with over 20 rape cases which began with bullying, where a girl, perhaps because she is quiet or just seems weak, gets noticed by a group of bullies as an easy target. Once the victim’s parents contact Abe, the first step of his investigation process is usually gathering evidence of the attack. And in most cases, these assailants actually take a video of the rape attack as a grotesque trophy. Abe’s job is to collect these and turn them over to the victim’s guardians as evidence to whatever legal action they which to pursue. “Even when my investigation is closed, I can’t say the situation has been resolved. The emotional scars of the victims don’t heal that easily.”
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