Smartphones have become an essential tool for people of all ages, but they also pose serious challenges for parents and teachers trying to protect children from online abuse.

The July suicide of a high school girl in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, serves as an example of how cyberbullying can take root among children in a closed online community.

According to media reports, the girl left a suicide note detailing brutal messages she had received from classmates via the popular messaging app Line. Nevertheless, the school announced in December it had determined that the bullying was not the direct cause of her suicide.