National / Social Issues

Bullying caused boy's suicide, Otsu admits

Kyodo

The city of Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, admitted for the first time Tuesday there was a causal relationship between a junior high school boy’s suicide in 2011 and the bullying he was subjected to by his classmates.

The admission came during an Otsu District Court session in a ¥77 million damages suit filed by the boy’s family against the municipal government and the three alleged victimizers. The boy was 13 years old at the time of his October 2011 suicide.

During the session, the city proposed an out-of-court settlement in the damages suit. The next of kin has yet to respond.

The city also filed with the three-judge panel a report — compiled in January by an independent panel set up to look into the suicide — that concluded that bullying by the boy’s classmates was the “direct cause” of his death.

The family filed a document noting that the city board of education had issued a guideline in March 2011 aimed at rooting out bullying at schools at an early stage. Earlier reports said both the board and the city had initially denied that the victim had been bullied, only to reverse themselves and apologize.

During the court session, the family argued that the guideline assumed that suicide could be a direct result of bullying and that school authorities knew their inaction may have contributed to their son’s death.

The document also noted that the victim had a bruised cheek and that two or more teachers were aware that he was probably being squeezed by his tormentors for money.

School authorities were aware of the bullying but failed to take effective measures to stop it, the family said.

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