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Central Japan students can send SOS over bullying on tablets

This photo shows a tablet home screen with "Ijime SOS" and other icons. (Mainichi)

NISSHIN, Aichi -- The municipal education board here has introduced an SOS bullying consultation form using tablet computers distributed to elementary and middle schoolers through the education ministry's "GIGA School Program."

    The form allows students to report the content of their consultations by simply selecting the corresponding items, without having to write any sentence. The Nisshin Municipal Board of Education aims for early detection of bullying and a swift response to it.

    Tapping the "Ijime SOS" icon on the tablet's home screen will bring up the input form screen. There are three types of forms, one each for first to third graders, fourth to sixth graders, and junior high school students.

    In the one for first to third graders, the students first select the applicable item from "I don't want to go to school or I am having a hard time" and "I saw someone treated in a bad way." After that, they select the alleged bullies from "the same class," "other grades" and so on, as well as the actions from "being hit or kicked," "being told nasty things" and so on. This is an easy way for children who are not good at writing or communicating in person to ask for help.

    In the forms for fourth to sixth graders and junior high school students, the consulting party can be selected from among "homeroom teacher," "non-homeroom teacher," "school nurse" and "school counselor."

    The information entered into the form is sent to the principal, vice principal, and two other executives of the school in question, as well as to the education board, and the principal gives instructions on how to respond to each case.

    Since the system was launched, there have been apparently several reports of "bad-mouthing" and "being hit" as well as concerns about situations among friends.

    An education board official said, "What may not appear to be bullying at first often becomes more serious as time goes on. We expect that the introduction of the SOS form will allow us to respond earlier and in a more timely manner."

    (Japanese original by Motoyori Arakawa, Nagoya News Center)

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