Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Up until yesterday I was pretty impressed to have never seen any evidence of bullying going on within any of the 10 schools that I visit. In fact my overall impression has been that on the whole kids over here respect each other a hell of a lot more than they do at schools in NZ.

Yesterday was a different story entirely but surprisingly is was the attitude of the teachers rather than the students themselves that left me with a bad taste in my mouth and in a foul mood for the rest of the day!
I was on my way to class with my English teacher when we came across a student sobbing her heart out while standing talking with her homeroom teacher. My English teacher happens to also be the disciplinary teacher for the school and so stopped to find out what was going on. After what seemed to me to be a rather heated conversation with the student (resulting in more tears) we carried on our way to class leaving the student who was still crying with her teacher. My English teacher then says to me "she is in trouble" by way of explaining what I had just seen... to which I responded something along the lines of "that's no good". My teacher then went on to say "she is being bullied by her friends." My initial thought was 'oh he's made a mistake... trouble obviously wasn't what he meant but then I remembered the conversation he had just had with this student... a telling off is the same in any language! So using my fabulous journalistic skills I asked a few leading questions which quickly got me to the bottom of it. Here is what I was told... although note this isn't word for word seeing as I didn't have my shorthand notepad handy!
"Her friends are bullying her but in Japanese culture if someone is being bullied than it is because they themselves are doing something wrong." I then said, "what do you mean".... "well if there is a group of students bullying her than she must have done something to deserve it" (these I can assure you were his actual words!). Having been on the receiving end of bullying myself I was totally at a loss for words... thinking to myself, surely he doesn't really believe she deserves to be bullied! Not quite satisfied just yet I then said "what makes you say that". To which he replied, "a group of students wouldn't bully one student if they hadn't first done something to deserve it. A group can't be wrong - if a group are bullying just one student then because there are more of them they must be right."

My jaw dropped!

On the flip side I had a great day today making Christmas hats with my students!


Gareth said...

Wow, what an attitude. I've not come across anything like that yet but it really highlights the Japanese group menatlity, eh?

"A group can't be wrong." Nice.

illahee said...

oh, that poor girl. *sigh*

Dash said...

Well sure...that makes complete sense!



Lauri said...

Hi! In Japan, Separating good from evil may be rather difficult from time to time, aye?