Criminal cases filed over schoolyard bullying incidents have increased 57% in 2013, with 410 reported cases. According to the National Police Agency, 724 schoolchildren were taken into custody or questioned for these cases, an increase of 41% from 2012.
Experts believe that the rise in number of cases is due to the dissemination of a new definition of bullying. Following the incident of a junior high school student in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture who committed suicide after being bullied by classmates, the bullying countermeasures legislation was passed and a new definition what constitutes bullying was given. However, an NPA official said, ‘The increase is because of not only the change of definition, but also an increase in the number of incidents that became criminal cases in response to consultations by victims or their parents.” While police say bullying is an act that repeatedly causes pain to victim, the 2013 law defines it as any act that causes pain to victims even with just one instance. The new law would call it a bullying case if a student hits a classmate just once, but gave them injuries. This lead to a spike in reported incidents to 335 cases in 2013, from 260 the previous year.
The bullying cases reported in 2013 came on various forms of assault, extortion, infliction of bodily injuries to online harassment, slander and even posting naked photos on the Web. For those students questioned by the police, 73% were in junior high school, 15% in high school and 12% were in elementary. When police asked the victims whom they reported the bullying case to, 70.6% said they complained to their parent, 21.5% contacted public authorities such as the police, and 16% did not tell anybody.