Reading Walt Gardner’s June 1 article, “Bullying weakens Japanese, U.S. schools,” made me feel really sad — not only because bullying of students in Japan, no matter who they are, seems to be rife at the moment but also because it is a problem that just does not seem to go away.

The best way to end bullying is to stand up to those tormenting others. Of course, this is often easier said than done.

If bullying is ever to end or at least be greatly reduced, it will be a matter of everybody taking responsibility and having the courage to act. It also means putting effective strategies into place. In Australia, where bullying is also a serious issue, a new program has been introduced into primary schools, involving students, teachers, parents and the wider community.

The program, “KidsMatter Primary,” focuses on the mental health and wellbeing of students and is free to all schools. Based on empirical research, it has already made a difference in many children’s lives.

Schools that sign up for the program undertake a two- to three-year plan during which they must take action to be a positive community based on respectful relationships and a sense of belonging across the school. The program promotes social and emotional learning, working closely with parents, carers and families and providing support for those experiencing mental health difficulties.

Bullying is more often than not a cry for help that needs to be dealt with professionally before serious consequences happen. The years spent at school should be the happiest days of our children’s lives. It’s time that we all got serious about making this come true.

dale down
mulgrave, victoria

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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