Saturday, 2 February 2013
BEATING THE BULLIES (AND AN APOLOGY)
“Sensei, I just wanted to tell you that Y-chan did an amazing job cleaning the toilets. She's very talented and is so hard-working.”
“Well, that’s just great M-chan. You two run out and play now.”
“You hear that, Y-chan? I told the teacher a compliment so now you owe me. From now on, I will never clean the toilets again, you will do it for me, and you will tell the teacher I did it. You got that?”
The front of my Japan Times this morning had a splash on the resignation of the women’s judo coach after using beatings to train the Japan Olympic team. This, thankfully, should come to an end now that the bright spotlight of publicity is on people whose abuse of authority* leads to suicides.
There’s a bullying problem at my daughters’ primary school. One girl -- through guile, evasion, threats and favours promised -- has reduced half the class to sobbing wrecks. The teachers and head teacher are aware of the problem, and have been for at least three years. But the bully has never been stopped. The staff hide behind procedure or the need for incontrovertible, written proof, while one after another of the bullied girls' parents meet teachers and learn that the authorities are aware of the problem but seem incapable of solving it. Or, given the revolving nature of teaching posts at schools, are happier to allow their time to run out and leave the problem kid to someone else to sort out. There’s another term for this institutional failing: can’t be bothered.
The bully has instinctively worked this out and is happy to work the system to her own advantage, knowing fortune favours the brave: she will outlast the teachers’ term in office and she operates a divide and rule strategy with the other kids. Her classmates figure it’s easier to keep their heads down and keep quiet and hope some other poor bastard bears the brunt of M-chan’s torturing. For torture is what it is becoming for one of my neighbour’s daughter. Getting a minion to write “You die!” on the blackboard for all the kids to see is beyond the pulling of pigtails we’d like to think is the extent of an 11-year-olds’ bullying problems.
Well, if the teachers won’t act, we will. We’re not going to wait for some poor kid to take her own life before anyone confronts the bully. First on the agenda is to stop the division. United, victims are no longer weak. Then everything needs to be brought out into the open. We don’t care two stuffs for the school’s reputation. We care about the kids. If the conditions are right then all it takes is for one brave person to take a stand, and for the bully to see the tide has turned. But the tide has to turn. That requires clarity, dedication, organisation, charisma, bravery and sheer pig-headedness.
Step forward Our Woman in Abiko.
*An Apology. Our Man in Abiko was in two minds about taking the piss out of Abe-san in the last post for his abysmal English. Lord knows Our Man’s Japanese is abysmal and equally worthy of scorn. He hopes Abe-san understands that Our Man was merely looking for anything vaguely amusing and anti-authority, this being the default position of the blog. In the future, Our Man will endeavour to take the piss out of Abe-san for matters of hypocrisy, corruption, incompetence and/or substance if, going forward, anything of substance regarding Abe does come to light. But not of his baffling decision to bamboozle the world's movers and shakers with his impression of English.
Labels: Potatoes from Nagasaki