Friday, July 20, 2012

Just another thought

Since last week the big news has been about a boy who died last fall.  Actually, he committed suicide.  He was bullied.  His parents had to file four reports with the police before there was an investigation.

He is not the only child to take his own life due to bullying.  (According to the findings of the investigation, bullying could have been one of the reasons the boy committed suicide.)  During the 2010-11 school year, 156 children took their own lives, not all due to bullying.

These two issues, bullying and suicide, are problems about which the public and parents are concerned.   In the past week or so I have asked several friends, both Japanese and non-Japanese, as well as read several articles online, about these issues.

The most common comments about why bullying happens in Japan include: the group society of Japan and lack of love from parents.  Another interesting comment was that parents do too much for their children so that they can study which results in children who don't know how to take responsibility.

Although I am not sure that bullying because someone is different from the rest of the group is so different from any other place in the world, the group society of Japan is a strong force.  Being from the US where we are taught independence from the moment we are born, the group think of Japan and other Asian countries takes much observation and interaction to understand.  I do not claim to understand this concept, however, I do understand it better than when I first came to Japan.  I do think this cultural point adds some extra pressure to conform as well as to participate in bullying.

The way people groups show love within their culture varies from group to group.  I don't think I would say that Japanese parents love their children any less than parents in other cultures.  However, I have observed that the way that love is shown here often seems ambiguous which, I suspect, would make children wonder about their parents' love for them.

If these are some of the common causes of bullying, what can be done to help decrease the occurrences of it?  Once again, just as with not having a complete list of causes, I do not have complete answers, either.

It seems that as parents, adults, teachers, friends of children, we need to not only teach with words but also in our own actions and attitudes.  Children learn much from observation.  Bullying is not limited to schools, it is also happens in work places and among groups of adults.  I wonder if the children of these adults who bully are also bullies themselves.  I have not researched this idea, I am just wondering aloud.

I think that education and attitude are two things that can help reduce bullying.

Here is a comment by Midori Komori, her daughter committed suicide because of bullying:
"Every adult has to teach children not to do anything they don't want their friends to do to them.  If we can teach our children that I think we will no longer see bullying in our society."
(quoted from this article: )

This is a teaching of many religions.  In Matthew's gospel, Jesus says, "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Imagine a world, a society, a city, a school, a home where everyone treats others as they want to be treated!


Lori said...

Interesting that this was won of the questions posed to the contestants last night at the Lyon County Queen Contest: Should bullies be prosecuted when someone commits suicide? While I think people should be responsible for their actions there are so many contributing factors it would be so difficult to prove this was the causal is so sad that children feel they must pick on one another to such a degree that one would chose death over living with the pain. It seems to be a worldwide problem.
Keep up the God work.

Christa said...

Great article. We have had teens commit suicide in the Rochester area due to bullying this year and good friends move their daughter to another town and school. So sad what young people say and do to each other. I will have to ask my friend Chizuko, who works with youth in Japan, what she is seeing.
Peace to you Shan.