TOKYO -- The number of reported bullying incidents at Japan's schools jumped by 28.2 percent in fiscal 2017 from a year earlier to mark a record high of 414,378 cases, the education ministry announced on Oct. 25.
The surge is as big as in fiscal 2016, when the ministry began asking schools to include student fights and teasing in their bullying reports. However, ministry officials see the latest increase with some positive light, saying that the increase means teachers and others have become more vigilant about bullying, many of which cases often remain unreported and become serious.
The reported figures for a one year period ending in March this year came from 37,837 elementary, junior high, high schools and special schools for students with disabilities. By school type, elementary schools had 317,121 reports of bullying, up 33.7 percent or 79,865 cases, while junior highs had a 12.8 percent jump, 9,115 more incidents, to 80,424 cases. Those total numbers were the highest ever.
High schools reported a 14.9 percent hike, or 1,915 more reports, to 14,789 cases, and special schools saw a 20 percent rise to 2,044 cases, up 340 from the previous fiscal year.
By bullying types, "mocking and badmouthing" marked the highest average rate at 62.3 percent, or 257,996 cases, followed by "hitting and kicking disguised as playing" at 21 percent or 87,170 reports. The third most frequent category was "exclusion or ignoring" at 14.1 percent or 58,290 cases. "Slandering using computers or smartphones" made up 3 percent, or 12,632 incidents, but the figure shot up to become the second largest type of bullying with 17.5 percent or 2,587 reports at high schools.
The number of "serious" bullying cases as stipulated by the bullying prevention act was also a record high at 474, increasing by 78 from the previous fiscal year. Those cases included students whose life, mind, body or property was considered threatened, or who were forced to leave school for a long time.
A total of 250 students and pupils, five more than a year ago, took their own lives. Of them, 10 had bullying problems.
Although the total number of bullying cases shot up, 24.5 percent of the surveyed schools, or 9,151, did not report even a single case of bullying.
Meanwhile, reported violence numbered 63,325 cases, up 6.5 percent from the previous year to a record level. Numbers dipped at junior high and high schools, but surged by 24 percent to 28,315 cases in elementary schools. Seventy percent of these cases were between pupils, far larger than the ratios for violence against teachers or abuse of equipment.
(Japanese original by Takuya Izawa, City News Department)