An international research group on bullying recently compiled a report, including a bullying prevention manual, for the
Education Ministry, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Saturday.
The report is based on survey results from four countries, including Japan and Britain.
The report was compiled by a group of university professors from Japan and other countries, in addition to officials from the National Institute of Educational Research and the National Research Institute of Police Science.
With research funds from the Education Ministry, the group surveyed a total of 16,000 public school students, teachers and
parents around the nation in January 1997. A total of 7,000 students ranging from fifth grade primary school level to third-grade middle
school pupils were surveyed. At almost the same time, students in the same age bracket in Britain, Holland and Norway were similarly
The results showed that although many children from all four countries reported experiencing bullying, their teachers and
parents were much less aware of the bullying than the bullied children’s peers.
Only 13.9 percent of Japanese students polled had experienced bullying, the lowest percentage among the four countries.
The survey found that 39.4 percent of children in Britain and 27 percent in Holland had experienced bullying.
However, Japan had the highest percentage of students bullied more than once a week, or for a period longer than one academic
term. The survey also showed that more than 30 percent of the students felt they could not report bullying to their teachers or parents
because they feared the bullies would retaliate.
The report figures suggest a tendency in Japan for the same victim to be repeatedly bullied over an extended period. It showed
that Japanese students, as they grow older, have an increasing tendency to ignore incidents of bullying, the report said.
The apathy of onlookers makes the problem of bullying worse, according to the report.
It is necessary to involve everyone in tackling the problem of bullying, the report said.
The report mentions Australia’s “family group conferencing” as an example of a positive approach toward solving
bullying issues. The technique involves bringing together not only a bully and a victim but also their families, a school counselor, local
residents and the police.
The report also listed three countermeasures to help bullied children:
Firstly, a teacher or counselor should privately consult with students they suspect are being victimized. Slight trembling or
irregular eye movements may indicate that the student is being bullied, the report said.
During the counseling session, the teacher or counselor has to clearly show that they are in a position to protect the
victim, the report stressed.
Secondly, conventional countermeasures by teachers and adults need to be reviewed and a new system to help children support each
other to eradicate bullying must be set up.
As examples, the report proposes the introduction of a program to develop the students’ abilities to make friends with
others, and a teacher-supported buddy system between junior and senior students to stop bullying.
Thirdly, Japanese school principals need to take a more active role. School principals in Europe and the United States
usually remember the names and faces of their students, while principals and vice principals in Japan tend to maintain distance
between themselves and their students, the report observed. The principals should have more contact with the children and exercise
stronger leadership, the report said.
Copyright 2000 The Yomiuri Shimbun