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Editorial: Teachers must keep eyes peeled to protect children from bullying

  • October 18, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:11 p.m.
  • English Press

The bullying of children continues unabated. Places of education must seriously accept this situation and make efforts to eradicate bullying.


In the 2018 academic year, about 540,000 cases of bullying were confirmed at elementary, junior high, high schools and other schools around the nation. This was an increase of about 30 percent from the previous school year and the highest figure ever. There were 602 cases of serious bullying in which students suffered severe mental or physical harm.


The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, which conducted the survey on bullying, lauded the figures as being the result of increasingly active efforts to gauge the true extent of bullying in schools. However, getting an accurate grasp of the situation is nothing more than a starting point for developing countermeasures.


According to the survey, 84 percent of bullying cases were resolved by giving students guidance. This figure has declined for two consecutive years. Through boards of education and other channels, the education ministry should urge schools to provide appropriate instruction if bullying occurs.


In some cases, bullying that at first glance might appear to have been resolved is, in fact, still going on. In many instances, a child who was a bully suddenly ends up being bullied. Teachers should always try to keep a close eye on the situation in the classroom and properly instruct any student who is found bullying others.


In especially vicious cases and some other circumstances, a school should not hesitate to temporarily stop a bully from attending class to ensure the victim is completely safe.


The approach of teachers holds the key to handling this issue. A homeroom teacher must share information about bullying problems with other teachers and try to resolve the issue, rather than bottling it up and trying to deal with it alone. They should also use school counselors and other external resources.


Amid all this, a scandal that jolted public trust in teachers has occurred at a municipal elementary school in Kobe. Four teachers, aged in their 30s and 40s, allegedly repeatedly tormented a fellow teacher in his 20s. The victim was pushed to the point where he needed to receive medical treatment and stay home.


The teachers pinned the victim’s arms back and force-fed him extremely spicy curry. He also was whacked on the bottom with the inner tube of a roll of copy paper until the area became swollen. These and numerous other stupid actions that lack even a shred of sense are astonishing beyond words.


The assailants were mid-ranking teachers in positions to instruct young colleagues, and one of them was even in charge of anti-bullying measures. There is no way such teachers can be left in charge of educating children.


According to Kobe’s board of education, the previous principal received information about the harassment, but made no effort to delve into the details. The current principal, after being notified by the victim, only gave the bullying teachers a verbal reprimand.


This is exactly the same as teachers overlooking children being bullied in the classroom.


Steps to prevent the bullying of children will hinge on whether a principal can exercise leadership and whether a school can be united as one in trying to resolve the problem. Given the disturbing troubles between teachers, there cannot be any hope of ensuring safety at the school.


Every school across the nation should once again take a good look at their own situation and check whether they are set up to protect their students.

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