FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Parents with delinquent children are flocking to a nonprofit school in Tagawa, Fukuoka Prefecture, in a desperate effort to help their offspring turn their lives around.
“I have to undergo a month of physical training if we fail to wash a bowl properly,” said a 13-year-old boy who entered the school recently. He said that with a touch of sarcasm, but his eyes were brimming.
Ryo Kudo, the former leader of a hot-rodder gang, opened Tagawa Fureaigijyuku (Tagawa Personal-Love School) to help juvenile delinquents become independent by living communally.
The boy and four others share a rented private house that serves as the school.
They said the toughest job is cleaning. Kudo, 31, is obsessed with cleanliness. “Leaving socks abandoned is worse than (inhaling) thinner,” he said.
The school has been getting several inquiries since it opened in March 2005, and has recently been getting as many as 30 a month, or twice as many as last year.
The inquiries come mainly from families who cannot afford to send their kids to high school — a segment of society that often fosters delinquents.
Kudo, his wife and student volunteers often visit the school to see what the boys are doing. They also give job-hunting advice.
“Even boys who have repeatedly committed theft or injured others have amicable expressions. It’s important for them to lead an orderly life and have reliable adults around them,” Kudo said.
Megumi Aoki, 18, a TGF “grad,” said her parents were right to send her to TGF. She now works and lives on her own.
“At first, life here was tough for me because day and night were reversed due to my night life,” she said. “But I have learned here how to be in contact with other people, and I’m now thankful for my parents.” According to the education ministry, student violence committed in and outside of elementary, junior high and high schools climbed to more than 52,700 cases in the 2007 school year, an all-time high.
Naoki Nakano, a section chief at the Tagawa board of education, said places like TFG should be supported.
“Even if delinquent children refuse to go to school, there is no such institution as a free school,” Nakano said.
Last June, Shinji Hatakeyama opened the Tonda personal-love school in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, after being inspired by Kudo’s book. “I wanted to do something,” the 24-year-old ex-delinquent said.
He does volunteer activities with about 30 youths in the hope that they find something to devote their lives to.
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