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Public elementary school children committed a record 1,777 violent acts in the 2003 academic year, the education ministry said Friday.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said the number was up 27.6 percent from the previous school year and included acts of violence committed both on and off school grounds.

The ministry first began compiling statistics on violence and bullying by public elementary, junior high and high school students in the 1997 academic year.

Ministry officials said the ministry is taking the matter seriously and will investigate the causes, especially the cases involving elementary school children.

Prefectural boards of education reported that some children cannot control their emotions, and run amok after being cautioned by teachers, the officials said.

Naoki Ogi, an education critic and a professor at Hosei University, claimed that there has been a rise in problems related to students communicating via the Internet.

Earlier this year in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, a sixth-grade girl cut her classmate’s throat after the classmate posted a negative comment about the girl on the Internet.

There were 1,600 acts of violence by elementary school children inside school grounds in the 2003 academic year, up 27.7 percent, 177 outside school grounds, up 26.4 percent.

A total 35,392 violent acts were committed in public elementary, junior high and high schools in the year, up 4.8 percent for the first increase in three years.

Cases of bullying rose 5.2 percent.

By prefecture, 26 reported an increase in school violence and 29 saw an increase in bullying.

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