Don't overlook violence by younger students

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 28, 2010)
Don't overlook violence by younger students
「キレる」子ども 暴力の低年齢化にブレーキを(9月27日付・読売社説)

There seems to be no end to the violence being committed by younger students. This serious situation at school is clear from a fiscal 2009 survey conducted by the education ministry.

The number of violent acts by students both at and away from school jumped to a record 61,000 cases, marking an increase for the fourth straight year, according to the survey of primary, middle and high schools across the nation.

Violence by high school students is declining, but that by primary and middle school students has continued to rise. Primary school students in particular racked up a total of 7,100 violent incidents, nearly double the figure recorded three years before. The number of cases in which primary school teachers were treated at hospitals after suffering student violence topped 100.

In the past, specific groups tended to commit violence regularly. But in recent years, there have been conspicuous instances of usually calm students who are suddenly triggered by something to commit violence.


New measures necessary

The situation has thus worsened to the extent that the problem of student violence cannot be solved merely by giving corrective guidance to the leaders of violent student groups. New countermeasures need to be taken after analyzing the current situation.

A common characteristic of children who burst into fits of rage is limited ability to control their emotions and express their feelings in words.

To help such students develop better emotional awareness, one primary school, for example, gives lessons in first- and second-grade classes in which photos of an angry child's face are shown and students are asked, "How does this student feel?"

Many experts say the problem lies with student's families. They say that in some cases students are not well disciplined because their parents tend to neglect them. In other families, overly controlling and education-obsessed parents subject their children to too much stress.

School authorities must make efforts to improve the situation by learning about the family environments of individual students and using that knowledge as the basis for serious dialogue with parents.


Bullying persists

The number of bullying cases recognized by primary, middle and high schools came to 73,000 in fiscal 2009, a decrease of 12,000 from a year before. Compared with 125,000 cases registered in fiscal 2006, the figure for fiscal 2009 shows a drop of more than 40 percent.

But it is premature to conclude that bullying at school is in fact declining. This is because some schools answered there was "no bullying" at their schools without asking students in questionnaires or individual interviews about whether that was actually the case.

A third-year middle school student in Kawasaki who had been bullied by classmates killed himself in June. Such tragedies happen repeatedly. The "decrease in bullying" shown by statistics should not lull those in charge of education into relaxing their efforts.

Bullying could happen to any child. Schools must recognize this anew and take care not to overlook even the small signs of bullying.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 27, 2010)
(2010年9月27日01時12分 読売新聞)

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