YOKOHAMA – A 13-year-old boy in Yokohama who was bullied by classmates after evacuating from nuclear crisis-hit Fukushima has made public plea urging young people suffering a similar ordeal not to consider death as the answer to their problems.
“There are adults who will definitely be there to help. It is painful but please do not choose to die,” the boy said in a message conveyed by his parents at a news conference in Yokohama, where he was harassed while at elementary school.
The identity of the boy, now in junior high school, is being withheld by the media, but the case has highlighted the need to do more for young evacuees from Fukushima around the country.
The parents, in their 40s, said their son, who had stopped going to school and often stayed home due to bullying, has started to go outdoors recently.
They said he told them that he now enjoyed going to his current free school, an alternative school for children who cannot attend classes at traditional schools for various reasons.
“My child is starting to see the light,” his father said.
His mother said: “My son was really devastated. I think he is still suffering.
“I want children to have compassion for others and teachers to teach them to develop it,” she added.
Five months after the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the boy joined the school as a second-grader in August 2011 and soon became a target of bullying. He started missing school when in the third grade.
According to a report of a third-party panel of the city’s board of education released earlier this month, the boy was mocked with names such as “germ,” referring to the nuclear contamination caused by the disaster, and was physically assaulted.
When he was in the sixth grade, the boy wrote in his notes, “I feel terrible as I’m treated like a germ and I know it’s because of the radiation.”
His notes went on to say, “I thought of killing myself many times but I decided to live because so many people have died” in the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
The boy said he told his teachers about the bullying but was ignored. In the report, the school and board, which only began investigating the case last December, were criticized for their slow response in addressing the issue.
The father said, “I want them to explain why they could not deal” properly with the case. Neither the board nor the school has offered the family an apology.
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