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West Japan education board to test 'bullying monitoring system' at 3 elementary schools

Osaka Kyoiku University professor Yuichi Toda, right, explains about the "bullying monitoring system" during an anti-bullying liaison council meeting in the city of Nara on May 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Tatsuo Murase)

NARA -- Western Japan's Nara prefectural education board will test a "bullying monitoring system" at three public elementary schools in the prefecture in a bid to detect signs of bullying from various angles regardless of a teacher's experience or skills.

    The Nara Prefectural Board of Education revealed the plan in a prefectural anti-bullying liaison council meeting held in the city of Nara on May 19. It aims to detect children's anomalies and solve problems at an early stage by judging cases with unified standards. The education board will check if the system actually helps prevent bullying, and decide whether it will use the system at other schools as well.

    The council came up with the idea of the computer system that allows homeroom teachers to judge the risk. The probability of students being bullied is classified into three levels: "possible," "highly possible," and "possibly serious."

    In each level, 18 items about students are set to be checked, such as "not concentrating in class," "reluctant to come to school" and "their shoes or belonging went missing." Teachers place a check mark if a student meets any of these criteria and have the entire school pay attention to them including their living situations. The council also requires schools to take measures such as beefing up observations and establishing a countermeasure committee depending on the possibility of students being bullied. Education board members of each municipality are also allowed to inspect the data of the anti-bullying system.

    The system test already started at Gojo Municipal Kitauchi Elementary School in January 2021. It will also be newly conducted at the municipal Kawai Daiichi and Daini elementary schools in the town of Kawai.

    The council plans to update the system based on test results and develop an additional version for junior high schools. Yuichi Toda, the council's acting chairperson and a professor at Osaka Kyoiku University, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "Its purpose is to detect bullying using unified standards without missing a case. We'd like to grasp problems by testing the system at three elementary schools first, and then improve it."

    (Japanese original by Tatsuo Murase, Nara Bureau)

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