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Bullying behind Niigata junior high school boy's suicide: third-party panel

SHIBATA, Niigata -- The suicide of a male second-year student at a public junior high school here in June last year was judged on Oct. 5 to have been due to bullying, according to a municipal board of education independent panel.

The Shibata Municipal Board of Education third-party committee submitted a report concluding that the student, who was 13 at the time of his death, was bullied by several students on a "nearly daily" basis and while he was in a state of distress where he had no choice but to lash out at his abusers, his teachers only bore silent witness and failed to take action. The committee denounced the teachers for their "lack of sensitivity and ability to imagine" what the student was experiencing.

According to the report, the student was called a nickname by a student he had no connection with beginning from the second semester in his first year of junior high, and he soon came to be verbally abused by students in other classes as well. When he moved on to his second year, the report says "the situation escalated." He began to chase after the bullies, and they enjoyed escaping from him.

On June 23, 2017, the student consulted with his family that he was being bullied by his classmates among other topics. However, two days later, he was found to have hanged himself in a shed on the property of his residence.

Many students and teachers witnessed the bullying, but one teacher said it "looked like they were having fun," while a student commented, "It didn't look like he was irritated," and those around him reportedly overlooked the situation. The student consulted his homeroom teacher about the bullying multiple times, but the teacher never reported it to his parents or anyone else.

At a press conference in the prefectural capital of Niigata on Oct. 5, the student's father said, "From this report, you can't tell at all who did what sort of bullying," and claimed that authorities should disclose the names of the students who bullied his son.

(Japanese original by Aya Iguchi, Niigata Bureau)

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