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It's good to be heard

Japan

After the Arkansas school slaughter, TES correspondents report on growing violence among the young worldwide

In response to the alarming growth of teenage violence , the government has suggested that more counsellors be made available for schools.

Reports of knife-wielding teenagers have become almost weekly occurrences in a country that prides itself on its safe streets. Most recently, a teacher and a 13-year old pupil were killed in separate knife attacks at schools.

In an emergency measure, education minister Nobutaka Machimura has called for schools to set aside a spare classroom, starting in April, for counselling. "Students are demanding to be heard by those who will really listen to them. . . these recent crimes are surely a reflection of the lack of time teachers have for their students," said Machimura.

Doctors, retired teachers and psychologists, should be recruited as volunteers on a daily basis, he suggested. He has also raised the issue of searches, brought in recently as a security measure by some schools to prevent students from bringing in knives.

"If the heads of schools deem the checks to be necessary, then they should be conducted in an appropriate way. Such measures are socially acceptable," he said.

As the crisis worsens the government is considering other radical changes. A panel set up to advise the education ministry suggested permitting people without teaching licences to teach in order to "let some fresh air into the system".

Michael Fitzpatrick

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