Regarding the Feb. 11 AFP article “Violent coaching rooted in militarism“: There has been a bit of discussion on the “culture of bullying” in schools and sports but not much deep thought about how to create a healthy and nurturing atmosphere to replace it.
Of course, authorities are quick to talk about “cracking down” and we already see group punishment being applied in Osaka against the outed schools. This is a continuation of business as usual; violence is a habit that is difficult to break.
Fortunately experts have been working diligently for years developing conflict resolution programs that engender a culture of peace in schools. Peer mediation and restorative justice programs have been implemented successfully in schools in many parts of the world. These programs work with all age groups.
For children, taking part in these programs means learning individual responsibility as well as practicing empathy and compassion for others.
There are articles in newspapers every day that lament the problem of bullying. However, if we want to create a healthy educational environment in which children learn to express themselves, care for others and take responsibility for their actions, then it is clear what we must do. It isn’t easy to change an ingrained way of thinking in an institution. But change has already occurred in schools that have embraced conflict resolution.
Let us all work hard to advocate for this change in the schools in our communities so that the next generation of children will grow up healthy and confident and will be ready to become the world’s peacemakers.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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