8 graffiti messages pleading for help against bullying found in Shiga

SHIGA —

Messages complaining about bullying and ineffective teachers have been springing up in girls’ toilets throughout the city of Hikone in Shiga Prefecture. The messages, eight of which have been discovered so far, are believed to represent the cries for help of one girl suffering from bullying, officials said Thursday.

In some of the messages, made public, the girl writes, “Make the teachers stop pretending not to see bullying” and “They don’t tell off children they see smoking.”

The graffiti has been discovered in supermarkets and libraries around the city since December and the issues raised have been deemed important enough for the Shiga Board of Education to take action. The junior high school in question was identified and a questionnaire was distributed to the entire school. The survey provided the opportunity for some students to voice the fact that they are being bullied, perhaps for the first time, and for others to describe bullying that they witnessed. Teachers have been instructed to interview their students and to continue to guide and support them.

The student who wrote the graffiti could not be identified, but the words “The bullying has gotten really bad,” were found written at the bottom of one of the surveys. A board of education spokesperson said, “The individual who wrote these messages felt there was no-one she could talk to. We believe she wrote these messages as a desperate last resort. We will use every ounce of our strength to put an end to that child’s suffering. I urge her to please reach out to us any way she can.”

Compiled from news reports

  • 0

    ElJeffeEnJapon

    A situation where copy cat actions might lead to actual progress. Let's hope these kids have the courage to step forward and begin to bring more light to their plight.

  • 0

    cactusJack

    Instead trying to find the girl, why don't they do a full in-house investigation to find the main gang of bullies and help all of the repressed. Kill the problem at its source.

  • 0

    sakurala

    This is such a difficult situation. I really feel for the girl and I really hope that she approaches a teacher that she can trust soon. Being a teenager is hard in any country and especially difficult in Japan.

    Also,I know a lot of teachers are trying to help. Sadly, most of them are overworked and can't always see the bullying. Also, the bullies may not realize how much damage they are really doing. There have been lots of posters put up in my school, surveys and lunchtime messages from teacher over the PA system telling studunts of their own bullied experiences and what they did to overcome. I am sure many more efforts have also been put into place but the truth of the matter is that teachers can't be everywhere, all the time (although it sure seems like they are trying) and that the only way to stop bullying is to make the bullies stop on their own.

  • 0

    rranta

    This is a cry for help. I hope the community responds in kind. No kid, at any age, should be bullied. I hope all involved in the area will help keep this child as well as others safe.

  • 0

    diddlefinger

    why dont they set up a hotline?

  • 0

    timeon

    of course, it may also be a prank to get into the news. but better safe than sorry, the bullying issue must be investigated and addressed. both the bully, but also together with ways to deal with hypersensitive kids, or with kids lacking social skills. and not only in Shiga

  • 0

    sakurala

    Forgot to metnion...I am teaching in Hikone

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    The girl's, er sorry, Ladies' Room messages ARE the hotline.

    I hate to say this, but messages in cubicles is one of the needlepoints, one really effective way to guarantee action in Japan.

  • 0

    alladin

    And as usual, the board of education will probably overlook the graffiti and act like nothing ever happened.

  • 0

    sakurala

    Alladin: actually quite the opposite. There are special classes today dedicated to bullying to help people understand the consequence of their actions. Also, all the schools have been informed and asked to take action against bullying. The BOE is actually very involved. You should stop being such a peccimist.

  • 0

    tokyokawasaki

    We will use every ounce of our strength to put an end to that child’s suffering. I urge her to please reach out to us any way she can.”

    Is it just me or does that statement sound like typical lip service.

  • 0

    lovejapan21

    Sakurala..perhaps in your area..but in most parts of Japan..it is still overlooked..i work at elementary schools and I see bullying left right and center while the teacher just stands mute. IF it gets bad I interfere and give the teacher the dirtiest look. After my intervention it usually stops in MY CLASS, but...Its really really bad in the city i teach and I bet it is much much worse in other areas!!

  • 0

    alladin

    sakurala >>> If what you said is true, then why is it that there is still a lot of bullying going on with an increase of teen suicides!! I think before you make a comment like you did, you should read the daily news that pertains to this subject.

  • 0

    warallthetime

    How hard is it to stop this nonsense? How many kids have to kill themselves over bullying before anyone takes it seriously? How can teachers not see this bullying? it seems like something that is so easy to crack down on but the people here for the most part are so inept. The kids (mostly boys) at my daughters school are so wild and go without hardly being disciplined. I have seen them throw balls at teachers, mouth off, run away when it is time to go in and they are met with no discipline for doing so.

  • 0

    warallthetime

    Sakurala: If the BOE is very involved then they are all inept. One only needs to look at the numbers of bullying instances and suicide to see that there "involvement" is hardly working.

  • 0

    ExportExpert

    Bully the bullies into stopping

  • 0

    timtak

    I can see this method of brining attention to issues - graffiti in local toilets - spreading all around Japan. The modern day version of Ema (Shinto Votive tablets)? I don't mean to suggest that toilets are shrines, but they are often visited, and centrally maintained by respected authorities, and the message can be both written privately and displayed publically, in water based ink I hope.

  • 0

    GW

    sad reality is ijime is ingrained in Japanese culture from young to old, going to be really hard to get rid of

  • 0

    sakurala

    alladin and warallthetime: I am simply just stating what I have seen from my experience at my BOE and in my city. Of course all of Japan is not the same. And if you read the article correctly, there wasn't a suicide in Hikone therefore the preventitive messages, such as the special classes dedicated to bullying are at least helping in some way. I know there is a huge problem of bullying and suicides in Japan; I'm not that blind to the news. But also, there is a large number abroad (compounded with drug use). It is something that happens in life and we can't always expect the teachers to be able to gaurd our special little cupcakes all the time, but hopefully this will open their eyes, and make them take more action in regards to bullying at school.

  • 0

    Molenir

    sad reality is ijime is ingrained in Japanese culture from young to old, going to be really hard to get rid of

    Sadly, you're understating the problem. Its not ingrained in Japanese culture, but rather in human nature. You find this problem throughout the world. Some cultures deliberately ignore the issue. Sadly Japan seems to be one of them, though things like this help push back against it for a time. However no matter where you go, regardless of society, there is bullying to be found. All you can do is give kids the tools to try to deal with it, and hope that they won't become bullies in turn.

    Fortunately, most kids eventually grow up, and get over this evil nature, though you'll still find bullies in adulthood and even later in life.

  • 0

    sakurala

    Molenir: Nicely put :)

  • 0

    timtak

    I am not saying that Japan has a shame culture, but greater minds than mine have assumed so, so I will run with it.

    In a society which has a "shame culture," that is to say a morality based upon social interaction and cohesion, rather than from appeal to some (non-existant? existant? internal?) objective standard of morality, then social contraint among peers is an enevitable part of the system. There is no "higher authority" that might take the place of the peers. The teachers may attempt to take the place of that higher authority, but under what authority? If they attempt to distance themselves from the social foundation of morality, will be percieved as bullies.

    When does pointing out to someone that they are out of line, become bullying? When should anyone point such things out? The folks that advise us to "judge not" are usually those that do believe in an independent foundation of morality. In a system where no such independent authority exists, "social constraint between peers" needs to be at an appropriate level. These days it is generally assumed that if there is any bullying at all then it should be eradicated. "Bulling" should be eradicated, but a policy of zero-tolerance towards social-constraint between peers, may have profoundly negative effects upon Japanese society.

  • 0

    sengoku38

    I'll help!

    This morning I saw a junior high school girl smoking right in the middle of the street while walking to school. I wonder if I should have said something.

  • 0

    southsakai

    ExportExpert at 11:05 AM JST - 28th January Bully the bullies into stopping

    Yep that's the only way to handle these types of situations. My wife was a bully at School. She used to bully the school bully. Seems to have worked out pretty well.

  • 0

    manfromamerica

    I urge her to please reach out to us any way she can.”

    guess what, she did.

  • 0

    southsakai

    s engoku38 at 01:06 PM JST - 28th January I'll help! This morning I saw a junior high school girl smoking right in the middle of the street while walking to school. I wonder if I should have said something.

    Just carry a hasami with you in your pocket at all times. When you see something like that, just walk over and cut the cigarette in half while it's still in the lips and tell em have a nice day.

  • 0

    alohajapan

    Bullying is a part of growing up and learning to survive. If the bullying becomes violent then I would expect a teacher to get involved, but just words and pranks should be left alone. Parents need to teach their children a little saying I was taught as a child, "sticks and stones will break my bones, but names and faces won't hurt me".

  • 0

    sengoku38

    southsakai: I was pretty surprised at the girl smoking, since it was a fairly crowded street and there were plenty of people around. She must have been about 13. I was too shocked to know what to say. I guess I am happily a little naive...

  • 0

    IfeelImust

    I was bullied at school until I learned to box, suddenly all the bullies were scared of me! Yes I went on to be a pro for a few years, the nose ain't so good now though.

  • 0

    alohajapan

    You saw a 13 year old girl smoking and you are shocked? I was buying ciggs at the store across from my middle school when I was 12. It is a part of growing up and trying to look more mature than you really are to get respect from your peers. We just need to let the kids be kids. Let them make their own decisions even if they are the wrong ones; they learn from their own mistakes. If we keep telling them what to do they will never be able to think on their own and turn into some sort of robot.

  • 0

    sengoku38

    I'm not sure we should just let kids be kids. A friend of mine started smoking when he was 6 and he wants to quit, but he really can't since he has smoked his whole life now.

  • 0

    blackpassenger

    knowing japan, they discover who she is when they find her hanging from a class room ceiling or when she jumps from a third floor window. I think every child especially girl child should know some form of martial art to protect themselves and to increase their self confidence.

  • 0

    colby222

    to alladin and warallthetime, get off sakurala's back. This person is working in Hikone and is giving us the scoop, if you like, on what is happening, WITH THIS STORY!! Or maybe you didn't see the post from sakurala; Forgot to metnion...I am teaching in Hikone If this is so I appoligise.

    alladin, why be offensive; alladin said If what you said is true, then why is it that there is still a lot of bullying going on with an increase of teen suicides!! I think before you make a comment like you did, you should read the daily news that pertains to this subject. isn't this bulling!!

  • 0

    pumpkin31526

    Bullying is part of human nature....survival of the fittest, sometimes though children don't know when to stop and for the victim it becomes serious. I am sure we have all been bullied at some time during our childhood and we all learned to deal with it in our own ways....this is what defines each and everyones individuality. If we were to irradicate all the miserable misfortunes of growing up what would society be like....perfect? I don't thinks so. Let children be children as long as it doesn't become a serious issue with individuals.

  • 0

    pointofview

    Wasnt there an article a few weeks back stating that the bullying issue was to be looked into by school staff members at the request of the ministry? I guess they didnt take it too seriously. Staff that don`t deal with these matters expiditiously should be booted out. Enough with the gaman attitude and wake up. Children are suffering. They are our only hope.

  • 0

    sakurala

    Just an update: The victim has in fact been identified and the school is having special meetings, classes and programs put into place to help her and others like her. Of course she will not be outed, because that would just elevate the situation, but the teachers are making their presence known in the classrooms and have ramped up the hallway monitoring. Hopefully things can change :)

  • 0

    colby222

    poinofview: Yes they should be kicked out, but this is Japan and once they are in they are in for good. I also work in a BOE and have seen a fair share of pathetic excuses for teachers. Once I had a vice principal who often fell asleep at his desk! He may have had a medical problem, I don't know. And at the end of the year when they assign teachers to new classes there was one teacher who they couldn't rely on to be the homeroom teacher, so they made him head of the teachers in the staffroom. And on the other hand the teacher don't know where they stand these days. It is a very gray area, if they are too tough on the bullies, the parents come down on them like a bag of s&%$, but this is another problem, and the good teacher is forced to quit or takes stress compo. Often the bad kids come from the loud mouth, monster parents who don't give their kid enough affection at home. What to do??

  • 0

    colby222

    Thanks sakurala, keep us posted about the good and bad things they are doing there.

  • 0

    techall

    The victim has in fact been identified

    Japanese response = charge her with vandalism.....GOD I HOPE NOT!

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    The very last thing she wanted was to be identified. She will now be the object of 'subtle' bullying from the staff as well, since she caused Meiwaku and brought the school's name into disrpute.

  • 0

    Zenny11

    Interesting how some people still manage to try to slam japan on such a story.

  • 0

    LoveUSA

    poor girl, i bet she was told that she was fat and ugly by some boys who aspire to be real men ...

  • 0

    Jkanda

    sakurala, it is nice to see your caring attitude. Hope something good comes out of this. Please reach out if you are able to give that girl a lot of support. If you know the school, maybe a a good greeting card sent to show that others care.

    Hugs to that girl for trying to change something in her own way.

  • 0

    gogogo

    We will use every ounce of our strength to put an end to that child’s suffering. I urge her to please reach out to us any way she can.”

    You IDIOT! Don't find the girl, fix the bullying... no wonder this situation is as bad as it is!

  • 0

    Zenny11

    How can they identify the the bullies without her?

    Who should they target to stop the bullying? Every school-kid?

  • 0

    Jkanda

    gogogo, these naughty bullies are very sneaky, cheeky etc. Not easy to find them. I feel the girl is smart in some way so maybe, if the authorities are careful, they can really bring about a change. As said by many posters, this is a problem all over the world. But we all relied on someone and managed to get away from trouble.Bullying is a social issue; remember getting bullied by a teacher because I came from an affluent family in her opinion.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Translation question: If these writings in black felt pen were in restrooms in libraries and supermarkets around Hikone, (not in the Junior High School itself) would we really call them "girls' toilets"?

    A message I read on a Japanese opinion board about this today said that the girl trusted the bog door more than her teachers. Good point.

    This is what she wrote in Japanese. Taken from the Mainichi 「先生たちはイジメをみてみぬふりをして助けてくれへん。サイテイ」The sneering slang and the type of language used is powerful, calculated to create maximum effect. It suggests to me that she herself could well grow up to be a monster parent, or a merciless voice from the heart of the mob.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Further thoughts... Maybe she carries the latent power to control the bullying group, which is why the present leader may have subconsciously issued vibes to reject her. If she cannot control the school environment, then maybe she thought she could move society!

  • 0

    dolphingirl

    Good on this girl for trying to bring more awareness to this problem! I hope ALL schools will take this to heart and start to take bullying more seriously. How about starting with some policies to enforce a zero-tolerance-for-bullying environment for kids?

  • 0

    Zenny11

    doplhingirl.

    Zero tolerance sounds good but in japan you can't expel a child from primary or Jr high school.

  • 0

    miamum

    Zero tolerance sounds good but in japan you can't expel a child from primary or Jr high school.

    Unfortunately the same applies to the mothers too - and my god some of those are in need of a swift kick in the pants.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    My nurses were telling me this evening that at school they were dragged into the corridor, slapped on the face, had chalk thrown at them etc., and they knew exactly why, coz they deserved it. Now the teachers cannot touch the children because of the parents, and the out-of-control kids run wild through the classes, to the detriment of everyone.

    Now, how can teachers discipline the bullies, even if they could get those involved to open their mouths and explain the dynamics of the situation in the first place. How much patience would you need to be a Junior High teacher?

  • 0

    Raymasaki

    Graffiti isn't good But its a cry for Help. the wrong way to go about it. she must tell someone. & YES iits important to find her so she/they can tell what kids are doing the Bullying. JP Teachers know its a problem & make things worse when they don't do anything. its a world wide problem. Someone has to have the Guts enough to Stand UP to these Bullies. another student. in the series Abare hatchaku he did & thats the message they should be promoting. (if you see someone being Bullied Stand up for them)

  • 0

    ThonTaddeo

    Sakurala and Colby, if you know this girl, please show her that you're on her side!

    I wish I could help in some way; Hikone was my very first Japanese hometown about a decade ago. I can probably guess which supermarkets and libraries are being talked about.

    The school needs to discipline these bullies and get the parents of the bullies involved and get them to understand that their precious children can't go running wild in the schools and making other people's lives hell. Female bullies can be amazingly good actors when called to account for their actions.

  • 0

    LFRAgain

    "The junior high school in question was identified and a questionnaire was distributed to the entire school. The survey provided the opportunity for some students to voice the fact that they are being bullied . . . "

    A school I work at put out one of these, ahem, "questionnaires," asking students to name names, places, and incidents of bullying.

    And right down at the bottom of the questionnaire was a nice, neatly prepared area for students to write their own name, grade, and class.

    . . . . . .

    Yeah.

    Here's a thought: How about offering a little bit of annonymity to the kids? The teachers might uncover a little more truth when they don't force the kids to open rat out bullies.

  • 0

    saborichan

    Nandaka, while I do agree that she could grow up to be as abusive as the bullies who torment her, I don't think her language is deliberately manipulative or rehearsed. Some kids truly can't seem to find a voice other than the one they've learnt to use around others and they soon lose the capacity to have another.

    You're right about teachers having no tools for discipline now. They don't use lunch or after school detention because there is no way to do so in Japan. Lunch is only 20m of psuedo 'free time' after kyuushoku, and after school it's club. There's nothing to take away from them with detention. So they have nothing to lose when it comes to being punished.

    Once the kids realise that adult preaching is just words and entreaties, they get this heady realisation that they can ultimately do what they want.

  • 0

    jonobugs

    @raymasaki: I agree that graffiti is ugly and NOT something I would normally tolerate, but to say that it was the wrong way to go about it is ignoring the facts.

    The fact is that the message got across loud and clear and action was taken as it couldn't be ignored. It sounds like the situation has been looked into and action has been taken. Whether or not the action will end the bullying is impossible to tell, but something was done.

    I wonder what action you would suggest that would be more effective (given that you were in the girl's place)?

    Talk to a teacher, principal, parent? I doubt that it would have had the same effect. Also, perhaps she did talk to a teacher and was ignored, or worse nothing effective was done.

  • 0

    Icewind007

    Unfortunately bullying is something that's always going to happen. It's basically a constant.

    However, I think that there should be a new approach. Many like to think that the bullies themselves are the source of the problem. I think that the source of the problem are kids without self-esteem, purpose or pride. They are the most vulnerable to being bullied and to become bullies.

    This stems from a culture of worth along with not standing out. This collision creates so many problems in the phyche of kids that they simply retreat and lose that self-esteem that they need.

  • 0

    tmarie

    Laws need to be changed in Japan so that teachers can remove problems students. Until that happens, bullying can;t be fully dealt with.

    This girl's parents also need to be questioned as to why she can't speak to them about the problem. Stop blaming the teachers and demand action from parents!

  • 0

    LoveUSA

    I have been bullied before by men who have low self esteem and incurable life complexes because they could not deal with relationships with the opposite sex, I mean people with low social status, usually ignored by the opposite sex and who could never win any attention due to their mediocrity, so such men develop severe desire to hurt inncent women like me :) But I say to myself they are not real men, so please ignore them... I would like to teach this girl to ignore the bullies, they will never grow and should never be regarded as real men worth of a second of attention ...

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