The number of bullying cases recognized by primary, middle and high schools across the nation totaled 101,127 in the 2007 school year that ended in March this year, an education ministry survey showed Thursday.
The total represented a decline of about 24,000 cases, or 19 percent, from the preceding school year, ministry officials said.
The number of cases of student violence in and out of schools came to 52,756 in the same period, an all-time high and an increase of about 8,000 from a year earlier.
The Education, Science, Science and Technology Ministry conducted the survey, covering every school in the nation, to look at problematic student behavior, including bullying and violence.
It also covered cases of suspensions, expulsion from school and student suicides.
The number of bullying cases junmped by 6.2 times from a year earleir to 124,898 in the 2006 school year, due mainly ot changes in the ministry’s approach to the survey, which has come to place more importance on the feelings of victims of bullying. The number of bullying cases was 20,143 in the 2005 school year.
The education ministry said problems still remained in recognizing bullying cases at schools and that it had asked local boards of education to urge schools to hold interviews and home visits in an effort to to prevent bullying.
On types of bullying , verbal bullying and hitting tipped the list at 64 percent, with schools being allowed to give two or more answers. Excluding victims came next at 23 percent, and beatings and kicking at 19 percent, the survey showed.
The number of Internet-related bullying through personal computers or email via cell phones increased by about 1,000 from a year earleir to 5,899.
The number of students who committed suicide came to 158, compared with 171 the previous year.
Of them, one middle school student and four high school students were found to have been bullied.
Of all the bullying cases recorgnized, 80 percent already had been “resolved”, the survey showed.
By school, there were 48,897 cases of bullying in primary schools, while there were 43,515 cases in middle schools and 8,385 cases in high schools. in addition, 341 bullying cases were reported from schools for the blind, deaf-mutes or the disabled.
By prefecture, Gifu put the number of bullying victims at 33.4 per 1,000 students, the highest among the country’s 47 prefectures, while Wakayama reported 1.2, the smallest.
Cases of student violence included 28,396 between students and 6,959 against teachers.
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has compiled a guidebook on online bullying to help teachers stop such bullying at an early stage, ministry officials said.
The ministry believes teachers often find it difficult to handle Internet bullying because of a lack of knowledge on the matter.
The guidebook is the first of its kind and introduces 15 real cases.
In one case, a post on an online bulletin board accused a female high school student of being a sexually promiscuous. The student and her parents asked the police for help and identified the bulletin board’s administrator, but the message was not deleted. When the dissatisfied student contacted the police again, they investigated and found another administrator. Only then was the message deleted.
Another case in the guidebook was about bullying at a school using chain e-mails. To perpetrate this type of bullying, a person sends a derogatory e-mail and urges the recipient to forward the message to a number of others. The school reported the problem to the police and told its students the police were investigating the case while at the same time conducting its own investigation. The school was able to identify the student who sent the first e-mail in the chain.
According to the ministry, bullying using bulletin boards and e-mail surged after a June 2004 case in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, in which an 11-year-old girl stabbed a classmate over messages written on the Internet.
In particular, problems related to informal alternative school bulletin boards–known as gakko ura-saito–have come to light.
About 4,900 cyber-bullying cases were reported in fiscal 2006.
A ministry official said: “Internet bullying gets serious quickly, but the situation remedies itself quickly as well if measures are taken immediately–for example closing down the offending site. We hope the guidebook will help [teachers] discover [bullying] early and deal with it quickly.”
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