Sadly, as always, we find the issue of bullying high on the agenda, but little is actually being done. Having worked in the public junior high school system for a number of years, I have observed a recurring problem: Adolescents forced together for seven hours a day in class, and then forced together again for another two hours a day in club activities, naturally become fractious. We all know how families quarrel during holiday periods; it’s not that we dislike each other, but we just don’t want to spend so much time together.

If junior high schools were to adopt a “streaming” system whereby individuals could learn according to their abilities, then this problem would be abated. Different class, different classmates.

Additionally, students should be encouraged to try a variety of extracurricular activities in order to find their own abilities, likes and dislikes. The current system fosters bullying and its tragic consequences. I hope, against hope, that it will change.

julian whitney

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