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The Education Resuscitation Council’s call for efforts to stamp out bullying at school and measures to cope with bullying-related problems shows that the government is serious about the problem. But both the government and the public must realize that bullying is so difficult a problem that it will not be solved just by creating some systems as suggested by the advisory council for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Conspicuous in the council’s suggestions is a call on school authorities to adopt a “resolute attitude” toward students who bully others. Measures include requiring community service and teaching student bullies in a segregated classroom. Some council members called for suspending such students. This idea was not included in the council’s proposal.

But teaching bullies in a segregated class is not very different from suspension. It would be too simplistic if one thinks that segregating such students or stopping them from coming to school will eradicate the root cause of bullying, although strong action should be taken against serious acts such as physical attacks and blackmailing. The difficult thing about bullying is that it is often done in a way that is not easily detected by teachers or other classmates and is not necessarily accompanied by physical actions.

The council says that teachers must cooperate with parents and members of the community, have deeper communication with children and not fail to notice any sign of bullying. It also calls on parents, communities, schools and boards of education to unite to do away with bullying. But these are truisms. The council should consider what has been making it difficult for those things to happen. It should consider the possibility that the present education-related administration has made it difficult for teachers to have enough time to deal with the problems of all their students. It needs to consider concrete ways to help teachers solve bullying problems and to create an environment in which students will be free from alienation and frustration and do not have to resort to bullying others to fill their own void.

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