JAPAN. School bullies should be held accountable for their actions and punishments could include suspension, a government panel has concluded. It says bullying is a human rights issue.
The anti-bullying panel was set up at the end of 1994 after a series of suicides of junior and senior high-school pupils who had been physically and mentally tormented by their classmates.
In one case a 13-year-old junior high-school pupil hanged himself in his garden after bullies repeatedly extorted money from him.
Another victim was unable to cope with the taunts of his classmates and jumped in front of a moving train.
The ministry of finance has already reacted by making Pounds 10 million available for psychologists and counsellors to visit schools where bullying is a problem.
Funds are also being made available to help groups of pupils, teachers, parents and government officials develop new ideas for tackling bullying.
The police have also started to spend more time on cases of playground bullying. More than 3,000 incidents were investigated by the agency last year including a 130 cases which resulted in charges of assault or extortion.
However, the measures taken against bullying have been criticised for not identifying the underlying causes including, it is argued, the ethos of an education system which places too much emphasis on children conforming and on standardisation.
More respect for individualism, a growing number of teachers now believe, will lead to a more tolerant attitude towards pupils who are different or who find it difficult to conform.