A government panel on education proposed Tuesday that schools enforce suspensions of bullies more strictly to protect their victims.
In proposals submitted to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the 15-member panel led by Waseda University President Kaoru Kamata also called for the enhancement of moral education in schools.
Abe said the package of proposals marks the first step toward revitalizing the education system and he will instruct education minister Hakubun Shimomura to swiftly address the issue.
The proposals include working out a guideline for teachers to eliminate corporal punishment at school sports activities.
Kamata said it is questionable whether the existing guideline for suspending bullies has been used effectively, saying it should be enforced further.
The panel is urging local-level boards of education to establish clear standards for such suspensions, set principles of guidance on students who are suspended, and make efforts to gain their parents’ acceptance.
On teaching morals, the panel called for reaffirming the importance of such education and enhancing it in a sweeping manner.
The panel also cited the need to set up third-party panels to respond to reports of bullying and to establish legislation that states the principles of measures against bullying.
On banning corporal punishment, the panel urged the government and boards of education to make clear the difference between “guidance” and “physical punishment.”
It also called for efforts to encourage students’ voluntary actions without the use of physical punishment at sports activities.
Bullying and corporal punishment cases at schools have been increasingly in the spotlight.
Among them was a junior high student who killed himself in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in October 2011 after being subjected to severe bullying.
In late 2012, a student at a high school in Osaka committed suicide after his basketball team coach allegedly subjected him to repeated physical violence.