A 15 year old middle school student who was assaulted by three of his classmates in January remains in a coma eight months later. In what could be the second worst scenario since the students who committed suicide, one last week and the other in October of last year, the 15 year old was a victim of regular bullying form the group of three. And much like the October case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, the school and education board are only acknowledging that bullying was going on, but they weren’t “aware” of it at the time.
In 2010, the boy was first enrolled in his junior high school in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, and that is when he started becoming a target for chronic bullying from the accused trio. January 5th, during a recess from class, the four boys ended up at a nearby city park where the three are said to have repeatedly kicked and punched the 15 year old. When they notice the boy had stopped moving, one of them called emergency services for an ambulance, and afterward they were arrested for suspicion of assault and taken to an incarceration facility for minors. The three boys told police that the incident was more of a “one-on-one fight” than a group attack, but investigators later found evidence that the victim was hit in turn while being surrounded.
Quick to escape blame, the school that the boys all attended claimed it had no idea any bullying was going on until after the victim’s hospitalization. Despite “altercations” recorded between the trio and victim, as many as eight between April and December of 2011, including a fight in a classroom, teachers say they didn’t realize the 15 year old regularly abused by the others. Much like the case in Otsu where a 13 year old killed himself as a result of extensive abuse, including being forced to “practice” his own suicide, the school conducted a survey of around 130 classmates and then realized what the boy was really going through.
Classmates reported witnessing regular beatings and verbal abuse, as well as being forced to wade into a knee-deep pond to fetch a ball that was thrown by the trio, followed by their taking pictures to show others for amusement. The local board of education found the victim was forced to pitch baseballs for them, and for every one they hit, he had to pay 500 yen (approx. $6.45). Immediately after the boy was hospitalized in a coma in January, the board of education said it was not aware of any bullying, however after the student survey, they acknowledge that malicious attacks were a regular thing, and apologize for their “lack of awareness.” I think a more appropriate way of putting is “ignoring the problem,” or simply having their heads up you-know-where.
Thankfully the mother is demanding the school and board of eduction conduct a thorough interview, saying that she can’t even talk to her son to find out what really happened. She should be going to the police to file criminal charges, but hopefully this will be the first step. In the last eight months of his coma, the 15 year old has suffered from two cardiac arrests, and while he has been weaned off ventilators, he is still tube fed. The mother asks why the school couldn’t have prevented the incident when there was clear evidence of regular altercations between the students. That is an excellent question indeed, and one that must certainly be answered, not just for justice in this case, for all in this recently discovered bullying epidemic in Japan.