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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ministry to establish team to battle bullies

Kyodo

Education minister Hirofumi Hirano plans to set up an internal team to help schools and boards of education curb bullying.

News photo
Reactive: Kenji Sawamura, head of the Otsu board of education, speaks with reporters at Otsu City Hall in Shiga Prefecture on July 17 after a court hearing on the suicide of a junior high school student who was allegedly bullied. KYODO

The initiative was prompted by intense media coverage of a suicide at a junior high school in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, in which bullies allegedly pressured a 13-year-old boy to plunge to his death last October as his pleas for help went ignored.

On an NHK program Sunday, Hirano, minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, described the envisioned team as "line troops" to work alongside those tasked with directly dealing with bullying.

The team's duties will be decided after examining the results of a bullying survey to be conducted on elementary and junior high schools nationwide, the minister added.

"The education ministry will enhance its guidance and advising activities so we can demonstrate a strong will not to leave these problems as they are," Hirano said after the program.

The ministry is considering asking schools and local boards of education to report especially serious cases of bullying so they can be scrutinized by experts.

In the Otsu case, the victim's parents have sued the city and three of the boy's classmates for allegedly bullying him into "practicing" his suicide before he actually went through with it.

After a school survey revealed that several students said bullies forced the boy to practice killing himself, Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi reversed the municipal government's initial denials that bullying took place and acknowledged that some form of harassment led the boy to kill himself.

His parents argued that schoolteachers failed to properly respond despite knowing their son was being bullied.



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