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15 Apr 2002
I've posted under the education category since time normally is the worse in schools, but, of course, this can extend to the work environment.


Ok, we've all heard lot's of stories of children dying in Japan from bullying, but ... why would a child commit suicide or even die from murder ???

Types of ijime :::
flowers on your desk (represents you passed away)
typical pushing and shoving
square placards that everybody signs, including a teacher (another representation of having passed away)
being completely ignored
having to cough up spending money for other students
broken glass in school shoes

Ahh, but these are livable, aren't they?

Yes and No...

Being part of a group is pretty much essential to life in Japan. Your group is your association to everything. And being separated from your group is horrendous in itself.

Why school?

Schools, like any school, is the perfect breeding ground for these acts but Japanese schools, compared to the ones in the States, are especially so. (I've taught for 3 years now in high schools here in Japan ... and can only reference schooling in the States since that's where I was educated).

In Japan, jr high and sr high are much like the classroom situation in elementary schools in states.

You stay with the same students throughout the day.
The teacher comes to the room, not the students moving to the teacher's classroom.
Students have 10 minutes beaks between classes.
The Teacher's go back to the main Teacher's room, so no supervision.
Personal articles are stored at the back of the classroom, not in a locker in the hallway.

This system does provide a tight bonding, but it also breeds ijime.
You have nowhere to run!
You have no one to watch over you!

Why don't students turn to teachers?
Apparently, some do, but many it seems that the teacher says I'll look into it or you can survive.
Yes, many teachers do care, but ... they're in the main teacher's room most of the time.
I put my foot down whenever I have the chance but still, is it enough?

I have suggested to many teachers that the system should change, but ... of course, this would require the whole of Japanese Education to change too.

Why don't students turn to their parents?
Some probably do, but ... hey, I went through this myself.

Why don't students turn to friends?
Don't forget! They have been eliminated from their group, and if another student tries to help, they, in turn, will be targeted.

Just ignore it?
Some can, but ... it's a tough thing to live through.

I hate ijime, period!
Ouch those things sound pretty viciouse. I agree, the system needs to change if thats the case (Bullies are a fact of life, but they can be minimized to the point of minor nuicence)...

On another note, I am wondering what you teach in Japan, I am wondering because that is a dream of mine and I'd like to know, what the teaching oppurtunities for gaijin in Japan are, aside from language,
This year the Educational system switched to a 5 day school week, freeing up Saturdays for the most part. Most of the country (Ummm ... at least the families with children) are still getting used to having their children at home on Saturday.

Jobs for Gaijin ... try this thread

I can confirm what Moyashi told about Japanese schools and ijime. Unfortunately I have made my own experiences in high school. All I can say is that I stayed absent from school for weeks or months for the fear of being harrassed by classmates. It only takes very insignificant and small things to became a target. I am sometimes still dreaming of these events.

Here in Europe high-schools are organized the same way: each class stays together until graduation. They have their own rooms and the teacher comes to them.
hmmm ....

so if Europe is on the same type of system I wonder how Europeans get through the wonder years of Jr. High?

Is there iijeme on the same level ?

I hated jr. high a lot ... I definitely do not want to remember most of the period of my life either :(
The Wonder Years, we have them too.

Now, in Germany and Austria (other Central European countries as well), primary school lasts for 4 years, afterwards students choose between "higher" and "lower" education. Higher education is more common and takes place in what's called "gymnasium" or "Mittelschule". It takes 8 years (in Germany 9 years) until graduation ("Abitur" in Germany, "Matura" in Austria). So junior and senior highschool are somehow merged.

Graduation is required if you intend to continue to university.

Our class consisted of 10 girls + 10 boys = 10 couples (some of them actually married later). Those were our wonder years, hehe.

Oops, I forgot: no trace of ijime during my school days.
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In Nr. Ireland and G.B, the young children attend primary school from five till eleven. The classrooms are on average up to thirty pupils, the teacher has an assistant to help with the children, and all ijime is usually dealt with swiftly by the teacher. When that fails, parents are then sent for, and it's discussed at great length. If that fails, the bully is removed from the school without hesitation, and then the parents are left to seek out a school willing to accept them. The children here also stay in the same groupes threw out their school years.

The thing that puzzles me most is the system that allows these children to be left unattended for short times, here that is unthinkable, the teachers or assistants are present at all times, and in higher education, the children move from class to class for their subjects, not the teachers, the teachers never leave the room unless it's essential. They do not get tea breaks every hour, they get the same breaks as the students, even then there's always a teacher somewhere, the system that you speak of seems almost inviting trouble, and allowing the children to confront the weakest of the class, so I would have to agree that that system most certainly has to change.
ooops ... I'm referring to High School not elementary school.

I teach at a "Abitur" style of high school and at a private "higher level" high school. (side note: my father went to an abitur in Leverkusen, mother finished the boat ride in time to be able to school in the US)

It's interesting that since I don't teach a typical high school that I miss lot's of these problems but ... in one Jr. High Class I teach, I've been in constant contact with their main teacher and scowl any time I hear anything slightly close to bullying.

us schooling level
- elementary
- Jr high
- high school

Japan is on a 1-6, 7-9, 10-12 split.

Recently, with the 5 day school week, there has been lots of optimism that bullying and children not wishing to attend school will decrease.

Yes, isn't it really strange that high school children can occupy a whole wing of a building for 10 minutes completely unattended.
Strange? I call it neglect, :)

An adult should accompany students of all ages at all times. The safety factor of the students and the premises should be enough to warrant supervision. I find it really strange that this is not part of the daily routine for all students, we accepted it as part of school life from an early age and at any time we were left alone it was mayhem, the walls were left with holes in them ect, and the teacher was left to explain it to the principles. They had to give an excellent reason why we were left unattended, and in turn, the bullying was kept to a minimum.

ahhh, but the kids in japan aren't that bad. They do break things much more by accident than willfully.

Maybe, hall monitors or something to such effect would be good ... hmmmm
In your opinion, is ijime social class specific in any way - i.e. are children coming from certain social classes more inclined to bully than others? Also, are certain social classes more tolerant toward ijime than others?
1 high school I work for is the lower work related type like as in Europe and the other high school I work for is private and pretty high level academically, also being private a bit expensive so possibly being also pretty high on the social class scale.

hmmm ... I wonder if the higher and lower academically ranked schools are more prone to bullying incidents than the middle level ones.

Many parents put lots of pressure on their children to perform educationally wise to protect their future. If you enter Tokyo University basically you're set for life.

Previously, any child of any academic background could easily access the higher level schools if they possesed the ability now it's most only the rich children who can afford to compete in such a race by attending the best of lower level learning schools and go to the best of the best cram schools after school.

There are also the deliquents who are just plain deliquents. Many of these children probably come from the lower middle class.

So, yes, it's quite possible that social classes in a way enter into the [iijeme] equatiion.
Thanks for the interesting insight. Actually, I should have phrased my question more precisely. When speaking about social classes I did not mean the American definition - based on income level - but the term used by classical sociology which corresponds to cultural level. The two may overlap in the USA but can very much differ elsewhere. In this view, I wonder how families with strong scholarly traditions are raising their children.
hmmm ... difficult to break this up neatly since the Japanese like to refer to themselves as being homogenous.

I'd say there are 2 classes basically.
1.) You're Japanese 2.) you're not.

the Not category includes Japanese.
1.) Burakumin also degradingly referred to as yottsu, eta ... These nice Japanese people were segregated from society during the Edo Era.
2.) Ainu who are the indegenious peoples located in Hokkaido, most likely migrated up from Honshu.
3.) Korean residents, for all purposes should be Japanese but have been limited to only green card holders.
4.) other foreign residents.

The burakumin, Ainu, and Korean are probably those who feel the brunt of iijeme the most.

I wonder if this helps?
Regardless of the Japanese preference for an outside facade of perfect homogeneity and beyond the disadvantaged situation of the minorities you enumerated, I tend to beleive that there must be some difference between a family where the previous generations were low level laborers and one descending from a long line of scholars. This is the cultural/class distinction I meant. Do they bring up their children differently and if yes, what are the differences?
oops sorry.

I'll ask my kids and see what's up currently.

But in the mean time.
Even though Econonmic pressures for children to work has decreased I still meet 1 or 2 kids that must work due to low level incomes. 1 girl I taught 2 years ago had to work even though she had the socalistic abilities to go to a top 10 school in Japan. The teachers argued with the mother to no avail and the young girl had to become a typical OL to help the family.

Yes, the scholarly line includes lots of pressure for the children to follow. One of my ex-girlfriends came from a family of teachers for the past 3-4 generations. She and her 2 brothers and sister refused to follow in their parents footsteps.

Many Civil servant children also refuse to fool their parents "safe and guarenteed future" for many reasons with a "boring life" as the number one reason to refuse.

I'll ask my friends who are laborers to find out what's up.

However one friend who worked several hard labor jobs and now sells used children's clothing (pretty funny a guy with Elvis side burns and multiple tattoos selling seasame street goods) comes from a civil servant family.

I wonder if children's hopes and dreams are allowing them to break out of the drudgery and safety their parents live in?
Quite modernistic trends, aren't they? It seems the new generation works with enthusiasm on detaching itself from the parents and their values. Looks like Americanization full steam ahead...

I always like your analyses; it is keen insight and good sociology. It also seems to be easily publishable if put in an organized form.

>>I wonder if children's hopes and dreams are allowing them to break out of the drudgery and safety their parents live in<<

The drudgery I understand. But safety? For Pete's sake, most of our life is spent on creating safety for our family and ourselves!
shhhhh .... this is my testing grounds. I had wanted to go to grad school in Japan but now with a baby on the way and being 32 this dream is slowing passing. So, in place of that I've been thinking of trying to put enough material together for an alternative view to Japan. The social side that only long term residents can glimps easily.

@American life style
How true. Actually enough here to split the thread but ... apparently many Japanese copy or let's say "import" American views that they glimpse through TV and short study abroad trips. Too bad they don't see what the US has gone through to get to this point ... good and bad stage for the US unfortunately.

I was referring to economic safety? Did you mean the same?
Like you cleanly stated in another thread, the homogetity that Japan aims for also prevails in the civil servant being a prime candidate job which provides eternal employement, bonuses even in a bad economy and somewhat a social class benefits. Although, their base salary is pretty low compared to other employees in different job fields.

hmmm ... I'll try to split this thread when I get more time this week.

Thanks for the nice compliments. I have been thinking the past few days about how much I appreciate and respect what you've been writting here.
Since when being 32 and having a baby is an impediment for graduate studies? At that age I had two kids, two jobs (in order to make ends meet) and went back for another degree. Did someone tell you that you may have a life before forty? :) Seriously, with your abilities you should shoot high, even if it would mean sacrifices. It would give you a return big time. (Sorry for the personal remarks but yelling "gambatte kudasai" becomes an annoying habit when one has been a parent for so many years...)

>I was referring to economic safety? Did you mean the same?<

Yes, and thank you for the explanation.
:eek: Once again Yair's wisdom slices like a ninja blade. ouch.

How true. I better rethink work schedule and get my rear in gear and find a grad program before long. Thanks!!

@ yair

I could agree more with you. Becoming a parent for the first time is a scary thing, and with this, the fear of losing your identity and your purpose, but with a little time and a good kick from a friend(hehe@yair) it's not so frightening and a good future is what we all would like,


@ moyashi

don't waste time on the "what if's" get what you want out of life and prove to yourself that you want it bad enough, as yair said shoot high and your correct years a world of wisdom in his own right, ninja blade and all, lol🙂

Yesssss! Let's us, parents of the world, unite! And while we are at it, let's descend on Moyashi with all of our combined wisdom!👏

He needs a few more lectures from us, don't you think?:D

yes, yair we should, and we've totally highjacked this thread with our wisdom, haha 👏

maybe we should start a thread called "the old wise owls" or maybe "the not so old and still as sensible as ever"hahaha "with kids of course" moyashi is going to strangle us if we don't talk about education or time,hehe 🙂

back to economic safety, all parents feel a certain safety factor if their child follows a much needed civil servant post just as they did, but if a child discontinues the line of their parents work , here lies the root of uncertainty and the parent and child have conflicting interests, the parent wants stability and even predictability, the child wants a change of lifestyle that it has grown to dislike and needs the freedom to do this, " never the twain shall meet", in my opinion anyway, I've just went off on one of my tangents again,lolol😌
oooohhhh ... had the nail on the head. Definitely, I need to stop worrying about change of lifestyles and stop be so selfish in order to think more of my up and coming child. I truly hope that parenthood starts kicking into gear!

Thanks you 2!! I really appreciate the support and advice!!

@tangent ....
lololo ... thread has been pretty much talked out.

let's start an educational thread :)
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