School bullying in Japan


In Japan two more children have had emotional breakdowns after being bullied at school. 5 children have had psychiatric treatment since August. A head teacher has also been questioned after he was criticised for his response to a bullying incident in his school.

Both of the children who had nervous breakdowns this weekend had been bullied. A twelve year old girl considered seeing a psychiatrist after her classmates teased her for being short. A fourteen year old boy escaped from school after his classmates tried to extort money from him.

It's not new of course. Japan's schools have long had a problem with bullying. After these serious problems of five young children in less than four months, there is more attention being paid to the problem, but no-one can agree what to do about it.

More attention, of course, can create its own difficulties. The head teacher was questioned by police after giving a news conference in which he was criticised for his handling of an extortion incident involving a pupil at his school.

Seeing a psychiatrist in Japan is not just seen as an easy way out. Traditionally, it was regarded as a responsible way to deal with a problem when faced with no other option. But last week, several schoolchildren wrote to the Education minister threatening to kill themselves because no-one would help them. He responded by urging students not to write to him, but instead to try find people they could talk to about their difficulties.

It's awkward. Some fear publicising such cases increases the likelihood others will try to copy them. Others though, say the failures in the system need to be exposed.


Part A. Reading Comprehension.

I. Answer the following questions using your own words but taking into account the information in the text. (2 points: 1 point each)

a. According to the text, what does the Education minister recommend students to do?

b. According to the text, why did classmates tease a twelve year old girl?


II. Are the following statements true (T) or false (F)? Identify the part of the text that supports your answer by copying the exact words on the answer sheet. (1.5 point: 0.5 each)

a. Bullying is a new problem in Japanese schools.

b. The girl who was bullied was in her early teens.

c. A teacher criticised the police for not handling an extortion incident correctly.


III. Find a synonym for each of the four words below from these six options: (1 point: 0.25 each)

teased      urging        extorted       likelihood         exposed          threatening

a. strong probability

b. encouraging

c. revealed

d. warning someone that you will do something violent


IV. Choose a, b, or c, in each question below. Only one choice is correct (1.5 points: 0.5 each)

1. After the serious problems of five young children …

a) there is more interest in the problem.

b) children are paying for psychiatric treatment.

c) people do not know what to do.

2. The Education minister responded by …

a) saying he would talk to them about their problems.

b) saying he had difficulties with students.

c) suggesting they should talk to someone else.

3. Publishing such cases …

a) will probably give other children the same idea.

b) is likely to bring about more failures.

c) will expose similar failures in the system.


Part B. Composition (130-150 words approximately). Choose one of the following topics. (4 points)

1. How can we avoid bullying at school?

2. What is your opinion about the role of teachers in today’s schools?

3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a teacher?