Gaijin Smash

Bullying: Another Look

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on December 12, 2006

Gaijin Smash Original Content
Because of the large response to the bullying editorial, I decided to write a follow-up to address some of the common questions. I really should have made the original article longer, but what can I say? I’m a lazy bastard.
The teachers really just stand there and do nothing? How horrible!
Well, yes, it is a bad situation, but don’t persecute the teachers just yet.
I used to wonder why the teachers didn’t do more in the way of discipline. In my first year, I noticed in one class, there was a boy who’d constantly just sing. The teacher never addressed it, and it always left me thinking, “why? Why doesn’t she tell him to just shut up? That’s pretty disruptive.”
I think in the very first editorial, way back when, I mentioned two rules/aspects of the Japanese school system that makes things very difficult in the way of discipline.
1. Students have the right to an education. Which means we can’t send a disruptive student out to the hallway, to the principals office, or even home, because this would be violating their rights.
2. All students will pass through the grades and graduate, regardless of their actual academic performance.
What that boils down to is, we can’t do anything. We can’t send the bad students away, and there’s nothing to threaten them with. We can’t give them more homework, because they already aren’t doing the regular work. You can’t say “you’ve been bad, so clean up the school/erase all the blackboards on the second floor/carry these buckets of water” or whatever, because they’ll just say “no” and there’s really no way to force them to do it.
So it’s not necessarily that the teachers don’t want to do anything. It’s just that they cant. The teacher I mentioned before, with the singing boy in her class, once spoke to me about how frustrating it is to have their hands tied. And as for Lil Pavarotti, I found out why the teacher always just ignored him – it was her way of keeping him at Level 1, so to speak. If she did say something, his response would be to sing louder, and switch to a more obnoxious song. The more she’d try to shut him up, the louder he’d get. So, ignoring it was her way of keeping him at merely annoying instead of class-breaking disruptive.


I’ve learned recently though that the “right to an education” thing has a clause which allows teachers to send students out of the room if it’s found that they are interfering with other students rights to an education. Teachers NEVER use this though. Who knows why. Sometimes, the attitude seems to be “we can’t give up on them”, and the teachers will try to get the kid to do their work and settle down, which never works. It could also be fear of the PTA. I heard of a case once where a teacher sent a group of disruptive kids home, and it sparked outrage and controversy.
The few discipline options that Japanese teachers might have, they just never think to do. Most bad kids are involved in the after school clubs (it always seems to be between baseball and soccer for the boys). If a kid was being bad, why not threaten to bench them for the big game? It worked in America somewhat – bad kids had to keep from failing at least to be able to continue on the school’s sports team. However, teachers just never think to do this. Also, I can see the PTA getting all huffy and involved should the teachers even attempt it. Detention also doesn’t exist in Japan – I once told my classes about it, and the universal response was, “Wow, American schools are harsh!” Even the teachers were a bit surprised to hear about detention, with quite a few saying, “it’d be nice if we had that here.”
So, a teachers failure to act isn’t necessarily them not wanting to, but just not being able to. A lot of teachers just have to ignore all the chaos going on around them and power through the class, or else they’d spend the entire 50 minutes saying things like, “Hey, stop wrestling in the back!” or “Put the Game Boy down!” In the case of bullying, sometimes calling attention to something will only make the bullying worse. For example, I saw once where a bad student took a pen from another student. The teacher saw it as well, and ordered the bad student to return the pen. Instead of returning the pen, the bad student then decided to liberally take other items from the other student. And this is just a small example. So sometimes, doing nothing is the teachers way of keeping it from escalating, as addressing it will only make the situation worse, not better.
There is a lot of irresponsibility though. One of the things that I hate the most is seeing the teachers be all friendly with the bad students. A bad student will interrupt a class to ask a question that’s completely unrelated to the lesson, and the teacher will stop teaching and take the time to answer their question. In the Ghetto School, the bad kids treated the teachers room as a hangout spot, coming and going as they pleased. And the teachers would entertain them, engaging them in conversation, laughing at their jokes, etc.
I hate seeing this because I think it sends an awful message to the good students. The bad students bully the good students at will, not to mention disrupting class and making it hard to study. The good students don’t necessarily understand why the teachers can’t do anything about it. So not only do they have to deal with being bullied, but they have to watch as the bullies get along friendly with the people who should be in a position of authority. I imagine that’s a big reason why students who are being bullied feel as if they have nowhere to turn.
Why don’t you do anything about it?
I think many of you overestimate the power/position of the ALT in the schools. We rank somewhere in-between the school secretary, and the lady who tends to the garden. Actually, probably even lower than that.
ALT’s are regarded as special school visitors. Many ALT’s go to more than one school – I had three, but I’ve heard of others having many more, even ten or twenty. Even if the ALT only has one school, they aren’t considered to be full-fledged faculty. There’s the language barrier – most ALT’s don’t speak Japanese, and at a school, the only people who do speak English are the English teachers (and sometimes, they don’t even speak English…). Even if the ALT did speak Japanese, there’s that Japanese Suspension of Belief that doesn’t allow them to believe that you speak Japanese.*
*I had a conversation with a non-English teacher once, in Japanese, about the presidential elections, and the differences in the Democratic and Republican parties, and explained the whole blue state/red state thing. …A few weeks later, the same teacher goes to Ms. Americanized (who sits across from me) and says to her, “We’re having an end of the year party in two weeks…can you explain that to him?” …How in the world can we have a conversation about politics, in Japanese, and yet she thinks I won’t be able to comprehend “drinking party in two weeks”?! Japanese Suspension of Belief, that’s the only explanation.
At any rate, if the teachers have no power, ALT’s have minus power. If we try to take matters into our own hands, we end up being the ones getting in trouble. The whole situation is a glass tapestry, and here we come trying to Gaijin Smash our way through it. Since I’m a big black guy, at first I tried using my size and stature to intimidate the bad students. It worked at first, but when the students realized that all I could do was stand menacingly over them, it didn’t work anymore. Many of them turned it into a joke, to see if they could get me to come over and make the mean face at them.
Some ALT’s go into Stand By Me/Dangerous Minds/Welcome Back Kotter mode or whatever, and try to “reach out” to the bad students. “Surely, they must be having problems at home. Maybe they just need someone to talk to”. And that’d be nice if this was Hollywood, but it isn’t. Most of these bad students bully and disrupt classes for attention, and when we give it to them it just tells them “Hey, your tactics are working! Step it up a notch.” I’ve even heard of some ALT’s who preferred talking to the bad students because they had more “personality”. I hate this because, again, it sends an awful message to the good students.
Personally, I give bad students/bullies the cold shoulder. I don’t smile at them, most times I don’t even return their greetings. If they’re going to show a complete lack of respect for the other students and teachers, why should I respect them? It drives the bullies nuts too, some of them have gotten downright pissed that I won’t acknowledge them. Some teachers have asked me about it, and tried to indirectly coax me into being nicer to the bullies. I think the good students at least understand what I’m trying to do – they know that there’s at least one adult that understands their position.
Unfortunately, this is all I can do. I can’t stop bullying or disruptive behavior no more than any of the other teachers in the school. Sometimes, it’s very frustrating. Which is why I say that Japanese schools, at least the middle schools, are fucked up. As a foreigner in Japan, we often see aspects of the culture that don’t appear to make any sense, but we hesitate to say anything negative about it. “Well, it is a different culture. What works for one, may not necessarily work for another.” But no matter how you slice it, Japanese schools are fucked. They need change – ground-breaking, fundamental change. I don’t see it happening, because Japan hates change. People will argue and squabble back and forth, but ultimately nothing will be done.
I really, really hope I’m wrong though.

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92 Responses

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  1. Nick said, on December 12, 2006 at 1:41 am

    You just have to keep moving sometimes. Love the writing, also. Keep hope alive!

  2. NamaeX said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:17 am

    Maybe someday you should step it up a notch on the ignoring scale and just mark those bad students absent.

  3. Kalailah said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:24 am

    If the assholes are assholes because they want attention, perhaps a tactic to discourage them would be to give the good students extra attention and the bad students, none?
    Routine, perhaps monthly awards–certificates, maybe cute, personalized ‘wooden spoon’ awards for the good students, or a running chalkboard-list of good students, maybe small weekly rewards like candy or little privileges–and nothing for the bad kids–would make the bad kids feel left out and the good kids feel better. Even including the good kids’ names in teaching examples while never mentioning the bad kids might help.
    Would parents complain that their kids are not earning something extra, though you aren’t taking anything away? If so, I don’t think they would have a strong argument.

  4. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:29 am

    They should tell the disruptive students to go on kamikaze runs for the emperor.

  5. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:29 am

    They should tell the disruptive students to go on kamikaze runs for the emperor.

  6. Matt Metford said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:54 am

    Yeah, I go to 14 schools. My girlfriend goes to 15, and one guy in our city goes to 20. There are 12 ALTs in Oita City, and yet we all still have over ten schools each. I don’t know why there are so many schools. There’s only half a million people here, and many of the schools have less than a hundred students.
    So basically, I can’t even use the cold shoulder technique. I’m just not at any one school long enough to a) identify the bullies, b) ignore them and c) do so repeatedly, enough to get the message across. It sucks, but that’s the life of an ALT. Sure, you WANT to help, but it’s just not a viable prospect for so many reasons.

  7. Mukund said, on December 12, 2006 at 3:56 am

    It happens everywhere and not just limited to school. I went over to Aus. for my Masters Degree and being an Indian there had it’s disadvantages. Although the bullying was limited to nasty comments, name calling, etc. those still are torturous to people who are “different”. And yes, some of the professors were openly hostile as well and went out of their way to make life difficult for some.
    P.S.: Az, I know you hate this, but I spoke to my X-GF in Taiwan and she told me about a wierd “Octopus” incident she heard recently from a friend of hers in Tokyo. Congratulations, your fame crossed international borders, Japan->Taiwan->India.

  8. Chris said, on December 12, 2006 at 4:02 am

    One answer!
    Battle Royal!!

  9. mephy said, on December 12, 2006 at 4:19 am

    FIRST COMMENT and it comes with a hug

  10. Kaitou1412 said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:21 am

    I love your explanation Az. This piece is a lot more serious than the rest of your writings, but still very interesting to follow. When I read the first Bully article, I was quite disturbed by what happened. There is very little you (and other foreigners) can do about it, but at least you tried. Hopefully it changes for the better in the future.

  11. Kosetsu said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:46 am

    …Ouch. I’m sorry. “Minus Power”… Goddamn that must suck. So the kids practically rampage across the school, and only stay put if they don’t feel like moving anywhere? How do you get anything done? “Battle Royale”, anyone? Geez.
    Are Japanese colleges the same? I know that it’s called the “four-year vacation”, so I’d imagine that… it might be even worse than the high schools and middle schools?
    …By the way, I must’ve missed something, because I have no idea what “ALT” means.

  12. dude8151 said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:54 am

    They need change – ground-breaking, fundamental change.
    Japan’s fear of change came to a kind of peak in the early 1800’s, and what happened? Western intervention followed by visionary Japanese like Fukuzawa Yukichi & the rest of the Meiji dudes and they changed everything! It seems to me that in this situation though the matter is more to do with a fear of responsibility. No one wants to act differently because they are afraid of copping flak for it. Being thought little of by Japanese society isn’t a good excuse/reason for ‘not being able to do anything’ either. How did women get the right to vote in most countries? Did they have the power to make those decisions? No, but they still acheived their goals. This is a situation that needs strong people to ‘fight the power’, not to sit back and say it can’t be done. Sorry, but I can’t agree with your stance on this.

  13. Melissa said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:55 am

    I completely and wholeheartedly agree. I don’t think I have to mention that I myself was bullied for years as a kid–nothing as terrible as all that, but still bullied–and I know that I took refuge in companionship with teachers more than I did with other students. I think “bad students” should be punished whatever way possible, and it’s very good of you to try to motivate them this way. Three cheers for conditioning kids to not be unmanagable terrors!

  14. Brad said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:59 am

    Not that I’d condone it, but I wonder if it might take something Columbine-caliber to shake things up, or if that’d just be an interesting tidbit on the nightly news.

  15. random_guy said, on December 12, 2006 at 6:36 am

    If you can get away with kanchoing kids, can’t you get away with bitch-slapping one of the little bastards? All it would take was one, and the kids’d be damn sure to behave in your classes.
    (Az’s Note: Kancho is considered to be a fun, children’s game. Like arm wrestling, or paper rock scissors. …To actually hit a kid, I can’t imagine the consequences that’d be laid down on me. …Actually, I can, since one of my friends used to push kids around and they were always having “conferences” with him.)

  16. Matt Metford said, on December 12, 2006 at 7:32 am

    “This is a situation that needs strong people to ‘fight the power’, not to sit back and say it can’t be done. Sorry, but I can’t agree with your stance on this.”
    No. This is a situation where strong, JAPANESE people need to ‘fight the power’. As they tell us time and again during orientation, we are not there to change Japan. And even if we wanted to (which we do), a couple thousand gaijin scattered across a country of 130,000,000 aren’t going to magically alter a deeply stubborn, tradition-bound country’s education system. The response would be, “Look at all these funny foreigners shouting about something!” and it would be all over TV. Without subtitles or translations, of course. There would be a gallery of celebrities watching in a Picture-In-Picture. Said gallery would probably include Yama-Chan, Macha Macha and That Anorexic Guy From SMAP. They would laugh a lot. Gaijin are viewed as one of two things here: hilarious talking monkeys or dangerous, rapacious murderers.
    If a bunch of JAPANESE people, on the other hand, were to actually raise their voices and cry out, “This will not stand!” then something just might happen. This, of course, is an unlikely scenario, as the Japanese people are by and large incredibly passive and non-confrontational. There needs to be a figurehead for the movement, someone to galvanize the people who are sitting around thinking, “Gee, I wish I would stop getting bullied” into action. That figurehead cannot be a foreigner, for the reasons mentioned above. This is a problem that Japanese people have to solve for themselves.
    We’re here to teach English. We’re not here to start a revolution. We cannot solve their problems for them. In Star Trek terms, it would be a violation of the Prime Directive.
    (Az’s Note: Thank you. Couldn’t have said it better myself.)

  17. Gennai said, on December 12, 2006 at 8:42 am

    You said it Matt.

  18. Zaysho said, on December 12, 2006 at 11:28 am

    I’m still surprised that anyone can pass through the grades and graduate regardless of their academic performance. Here in the US, you get held back until you shape up (or just up and quit). To reward bastards who disrupt class and harass other students is absolutely stupid. Is this true for the high schools as well? Or is this only the case with middle schools?
    I suppose there’s not a whole lot else you can do though. The best we can do is understand, even if the logic is completely backwards. It’s a damn shame that the teachers have no real power to control the students.

  19. Half Nelson said, on December 12, 2006 at 11:49 am

    If Japanese schoolchildren disobey authority constantly, why are Japanese adults so conformist?
    What causes the change? The entry into the real world?

  20. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    If children are seriously getting bullied, why not tell the victim’s parents about the situation, no doubt they will bring it up in the PTA (unless they don’t care for their childrens welfare).
    Hence causing instability in the PTA and change in stance if enough victim’s parents push it.
    Therefore causing a revoultion to sweep across Japan as neighbouring schools hear of it.
    The result will be an unpresidented percentage in well behaved and educated workers in Japan, making it the strongest economy and super power. Then Japan will dominate the world! …….sorry got carried away, I think I should have stopped somewhere before revolution.

  21. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    If children are seriously getting bullied, why not tell the victim’s parents about the situation, no doubt they will bring it up in the PTA (unless they don’t care for their childrens welfare).
    Hence causing instability in the PTA and change in stance if enough victim’s parents push it.
    Therefore causing a revoultion to sweep across Japan as neighbouring schools hear of it.
    The result will be an unpresidented percentage in well behaved and educated workers in Japan, making it the strongest economy and super power. Then Japan will dominate the world! …….sorry got carried away, I think I should have stopped somewhere before revolution.

  22. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    If children are seriously getting bullied, why not tell the victim’s parents about the situation, no doubt they will bring it up in the PTA (unless they don’t care for their childrens welfare).
    Hence causing instability in the PTA and change in stance if enough victim’s parents push it.
    Therefore causing a revoultion to sweep across Japan as neighbouring schools hear of it.
    The result will be an unpresidented percentage in well behaved and educated workers in Japan, making it the strongest economy and super power. Then Japan will dominate the world! …….sorry got carried away, I think I should have stopped somewhere before revolution.

  23. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    If children are seriously getting bullied, why not tell the victim’s parents about the situation, no doubt they will bring it up in the PTA (unless they don’t care for their childrens welfare).
    Hence causing instability in the PTA and change in stance if enough victim’s parents push it.
    Therefore causing a revoultion to sweep across Japan as neighbouring schools hear of it.
    The result will be an unpresidented percentage in well behaved and educated workers in Japan, making it the strongest economy and super power. Then Japan will dominate the world! …….sorry got carried away, I think I should have stopped somewhere before revolution.

  24. Z said, on December 12, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Its a wonder how Japan is doing so well in the technology department

  25. Jill said, on December 12, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Sounds like my middle school in the US. They banned corporal punishment. They couldn’t give kids detention because they’d miss the bus. The PTA pitched such a fit about suspensions that they had to severely cut back.
    Instead, they set aside a classroom (it was actually a really big storage room without any windows) and sent the bad kids there. There was a teacher on duty and they took their assignments with them, so they were technically still getting an education. In actual fact, I think it was mostly just a zoo–although I couldn’t say from any personal experience. The point was just to get the disruptive students elsewhere.

  26. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Wow, that must be really difficult. I guess all you can do is keep supporting the good kids, huh?
    All I can offer you is a sincere, 「がんばって下さい、Az-先生。」

  27. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    Wow, that must be really difficult. I guess all you can do is keep supporting the good kids, huh?
    All I can offer you is a sincere, 「がんばって下さい、Az-先生。」

  28. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    japanese people are funny, they make me laugh, they don’t pay attention to the problems in their country that they should be addressing, and yet just work on the things they’re currentlly good at.
    =(

  29. Anonymous said, on December 12, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    japanese people are funny, they make me laugh, they don’t pay attention to the problems in their country that they should be addressing, and yet just work on the things they’re currentlly good at.
    =(

  30. Patrick said, on December 12, 2006 at 6:46 pm

    I wonder if you could cut off their heads. Say they were dishonoring their families by being bastards, so you helped them commit seppku.
    (Damn, my romanji spelling has deteroriated…)

  31. Mr. Bomberman said, on December 12, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    I third Matt, as we gaijin are not Public Enemy.
    And I watched Stand By Me like, a million times.
    Have you ever tried the “On the roof” speech with a kid?
    “If you don’t care about your life, jump off the building.” Wait, no…

  32. dooomsought said, on December 12, 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Classic case of “spare the rod spoil the child”
    If I could, I would bet you MONEY thet one good whack would end a goood few childrens’ troubles.

  33. Tiffany said, on December 12, 2006 at 11:54 pm

    I know a lot of the teachers think they can’t do anything about it, but you can try talking to some of them one-on-one and see if they have the same opinion as you. You might be able to get together a few people and write an anonymous letter to the school board. I understand that you can’t exactly announce that you’re trying to change the way the Japanese school system after reading random_guy’s comment, but at least you can give someone with more authority a wake-up call to say that bullying is getting out of hand. Even if you can’t lead a “revolution”, you can at least put the idea in someone’s head that maybe, just maybe, there’s an issue that seriously needs attention in the way they handle things.
    (Az’s Note: Over 27 kids wrote letters to the minister of education, threatening suicide if bullying didn’t stop. …The big Japanese machine still moves slowly, if at all.)

  34. Andagi said, on December 13, 2006 at 1:10 am

    You keep on doing what you do.
    It’s tough for even adults to go around purposelly ignoring bastard kids, and I’m glad that you care enough about the good ones that you do your best for them.
    The system is unchangable for now, but I hope the kids that you acknowledge will remember you for years to come, even if they don’t yet realize what you’re doing for them.

  35. davatar said, on December 13, 2006 at 8:08 am

    To say that there’s ‘nothing you can do’ is a cop-out. You’ve demonstrated that there is indeed something you can do, and indeed something which is tolerated: give the fuckwits the cold-shoulder. That said, there’s more that you can do.
    Being that everyone seems to ignore teachers who join in on the class bullying someone, has it occurred to you that it wouldn’t take much to make a class full of lemmings start making fun of one of these asshats? That with a little goading one might change the dynamic of the classroom so that the little hellions turn against the disruptive assholes?
    Don’t look at the PTA and the legal situation as insurmountable obstacles. Think of them instead as points of grammar which shape your thoughts and actions. Virtually any thought can be expressed despite grammatical or lexical barriers to the contrary, given sufficient circumlocution.
    Stop thinking like a citizen and think like a politician, or a lawyer, or an engineer. Solutions exist, and you stand in the unique position of being able to encouraging the children to try those solutions for themselves. Ultimately, no change can come about but from the ground up.
    And now, a question: What control, if any, do you have over the content of the lesson plan in your classes?

  36. Anonymous said, on December 13, 2006 at 8:43 am

    I dont understand. If they can just sit there and ride through the grades and the teachers have no ability to discipline then how and why are students pushing themselves so hard? Cram schools,crazy exsams,the pressure that people typically accociate with the japanese school system, it seems like the way things are set up it would be the total opposite. Just sit there and ride through grade school then ride through collage and land a grueling tedious job in some office somewhere. Why the disparity? Why should the student care? Or the teachers for that matter? What keeps it all from degradeing into some japanese parody of an american inner city school?

  37. Anonymous said, on December 13, 2006 at 8:43 am

    I dont understand. If they can just sit there and ride through the grades and the teachers have no ability to discipline then how and why are students pushing themselves so hard? Cram schools,crazy exsams,the pressure that people typically accociate with the japanese school system, it seems like the way things are set up it would be the total opposite. Just sit there and ride through grade school then ride through collage and land a grueling tedious job in some office somewhere. Why the disparity? Why should the student care? Or the teachers for that matter? What keeps it all from degradeing into some japanese parody of an american inner city school?

  38. patrick said, on December 13, 2006 at 9:01 am

    Yeah, It kinda sucks that teachers here can’t do much about this problem. My dad told me that if someone dared bully me again, I should just punch the living hells out of them. Japan is a different country than the Philippines after all…:(
    The lowercase patrick.

  39. lubyloo said, on December 13, 2006 at 11:51 am

    well, at least you’re doing SOMETHING. and maybe things will change, eventually.

  40. Azrael said, on December 13, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    @davatar…
    “Being that everyone seems to ignore teachers who join in on the class bullying someone, has it occurred to you that it wouldn’t take much to make a class full of lemmings start making fun of one of these asshats? That with a little goading one might change the dynamic of the classroom so that the little hellions turn against the disruptive assholes?”
    You seem to forget that we’re talking about Japanese kids (something like that is extremely out of character) and that the bastard kids, ultimately, don’t care.
    That having been said, I have seen where a good student has completely and utterly lost it, and exploded on a bad kid. The bad kid’s response? To laugh at having finally rifled a few feathers. And then to step up the bad behavior a notch.
    This isn’t the movies. Bastard kids aren’t going to have a life-changing revelation just because someone gives them a taste of their own medicine. I have tried verbal sparring with the bastard kids, but then suddenly they “forget” that I can speak Japanese and laugh at the monkey foreigner trying to speak their language. And then there are 25 other kids too terrified to speak up for fear of escalation.
    I don’t say “there’s nothing we can do” because I’m lazy – there is nothing we can do. Aside from the little things like taking the time to notice a bad student. It helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. That duty falls in the hands of the Japanese.

  41. Anonymous said, on December 13, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Maybe if you pulled a miss american and hauled off and slapped the holy shit out of them…but then you face the pta. Unless you can secretly turn into a little old japanese woman with all the powers that grants…in which case screw the pta.

  42. Anonymous said, on December 13, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Maybe if you pulled a miss american and hauled off and slapped the holy shit out of them…but then you face the pta. Unless you can secretly turn into a little old japanese woman with all the powers that grants…in which case screw the pta.

  43. Just want to say said, on December 13, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    Just want to say it doesn’t not happen only in Japan. I remember reading about a primary school girl (8 years old I think) in England, she commited suicide by strangling herself to death with her skipping rope, because she didn’t want to go to school anymore because her classmates bullied and taunted her because her parents had a divorce. So it’s not only in Japan. And that’s not the only case of priamry age school kids suiciding themselves in wetsren countries. I am not saying it is not a problem in Japan, but often the media talks about it as if it only existed here and taht’s a disservice to the kids in other countries, the people watch TV and think Japan is really a fucked up country for having school kids drfive each other to suicide by bullying, but they don’t know it can happen in their backyards too.

  44. cutepiku said, on December 13, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    This is when the American/Canadian Education System needs to try to push their ways into Japanese Education.
    One way to solve it was used in my elementary school. They pretty much had the same rules as the Japanese, except you could fail (however, the kids didn’t really care. Especially if you were in Grade 8. They can’t fail 8 unless their parents agree it is a wise choice.)
    Anyways, we had a room called the ‘Social Skills’ room. It had those desks with the ‘wall’ sort of things. Students would go down with their homework, and they could either sit there, or do their work. They couldn’t leave until they did their work.
    The other half of the room was filled with games equiptment, and such. They had an SNES, pool table, all kinds of crazy things. If a teacher felt a student was doing exceptionally well, they could send them there with a hallpass like note, and they could play for a half hour.
    Seriously, I was a bully. I stopped towards the end, because I wanted to play some games, damn it!

  45. Trevize said, on December 14, 2006 at 2:11 am

    Thank you Az !
    This post sums up everything I thought after only few month as an ALT. Hopefully I’m in only one big school and I had time to see what was going. It’s $^*ù awful really, I’d nver want my kids near Japan until they’re 20.
    I really enjoyed being in Japan so far, but not anymore, this chaotic atmosphere is really getting on my nerve, as the students are still not supposed to know I can speak Japanese (ikkyu), they just keep on trash talking to me right when I’m here, and I’m powerless. Today I got a ninensei screaming at the Japanese teacher “Shut up you dirty slut, I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna chop into pieces”, as she was told just to open her damn textbook. The old japanese teacher just said “oh you shut up” and went on… OMG ! How fucked up is that ? And my girlfriend to tell me “oh your japanese tecaher is bold !”
    I mean come on ! Slavery back for teaching ?
    Anyway now I know why they spend so much time in juku 🙂
    Well as random guy said, not here to save the world nor to make a small revolution, but how would you want to teach something just enven a tiny bit for few seconds, when you can’t do anything unless risking to lose your job very easily…

  46. Gabe said, on December 14, 2006 at 2:27 am

    All we need to do is send Japan a gift. This “Gift” will be the clone of Commador Perry. THe creator of the Gaijin Smash (the founding father if you will for he was the first) will be able to get the Japanese to do anything if he could get them to overturn a long standing isolationist tradition.

  47. Old School said, on December 14, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    The people who want you to fight the system must be so into their Japanophilia, they forgot that they weren’t Japanese. They also believe that garbage about one person being able to make a big impact.
    If Japan is going to make big changes in its educational system, there would have to be a large group of JAPANESE people who care more about teaching than worrying about the PTA and their jobs. That seems to be another thing Japanophiles seem to forget; the people they like don’t really care for them that much.

  48. Nick said, on December 15, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    My one teacher hated bullying, and seriously you don’t want to see him if your being mean to someone. But he had been there for awhile so the level of trouble he got in wasn’t too bad.
    I personally hate seeing that because I was often a victim. That is until I started beating them up. Punch a kid and he tends to back off. Then they started doing it in groups and well it didn’t turn out well for them either. But I can fight so I realize this method would rarely work.
    Ever try doing the same back to them? Like the student takes someone elses money, well then you take it from them. What are they gonna do? Argue that its wrong. Plus I imagine you atleast have seniority. They cant really complain about you doing what they themselves are.

  49. CHM said, on December 16, 2006 at 7:09 pm

    I think that everything abhors a vaccuum, including social dynamics.
    This social system of bullying exists because of the space created for it in the author’s original story: The ‘right’ to an education, and furthermore, its delivery by the State.
    People who think its so much better in the west/North America need only watch out for people who want to quash private schools, school choice, and homeschooling. When taken to the logical conclusion of such things, the net result will end up just like Japan.
    Wherin personal responsibility and individuality takes a back seat to the ‘group dynamic.’

  50. noholzba said, on December 20, 2006 at 1:40 am

    hang in there, mate. I’ve got 6 schools, and fortunately they’re mediocre at worst, so I don’t have any huge bullying problems that I’ve seen.
    But I definitely feel you on the powerlessness…

  51. Ali Mitchell said, on December 20, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    I’m sort of pushed for time so i didn’t read all the comments but: in one of your first editorials i remember an utterly hilarious bit when one of the female teachers, forget which one, back-handed the living shit out of one of the bastard kids because he asked if she was a virgin. I don’t get it. How can she do that when he insults her, but then other teachers wont do anything when even the same student is a bastard to other studens. And if she can get away with it, why can’t you do something a bit similar. I reckon just dangling one of a window by their legs. It wont be hard to hold a small japanese teenage boy by the ancles, and there isnt much that can compare to a couple story fall staring you in the face to make you behave.

  52. Anonymous said, on December 21, 2006 at 2:17 am

    “…has it occurred to you that it wouldn’t take much to make a class full of lemmings start making fun of one of these asshats? That with a little goading one might change the dynamic of the classroom so that the little hellions turn against the disruptive assholes?”
    That would be hypocritical and would send the message that it’s OK to do it. It’s like the death penalty – you murder someone for committing murder. Eye for an eye is no solution, it just creates a vicious circle and plants the idea into the kids’ heads that it’s acceptable behaviour. Next thing, the victims will turn bullies themselves. Many already do, but fortunately some learn from it and wouldn’t wish the same situation on their worst enemy.

  53. Anonymous said, on December 21, 2006 at 2:17 am

    “…has it occurred to you that it wouldn’t take much to make a class full of lemmings start making fun of one of these asshats? That with a little goading one might change the dynamic of the classroom so that the little hellions turn against the disruptive assholes?”
    That would be hypocritical and would send the message that it’s OK to do it. It’s like the death penalty – you murder someone for committing murder. Eye for an eye is no solution, it just creates a vicious circle and plants the idea into the kids’ heads that it’s acceptable behaviour. Next thing, the victims will turn bullies themselves. Many already do, but fortunately some learn from it and wouldn’t wish the same situation on their worst enemy.

  54. Anonymous said, on December 21, 2006 at 10:21 am

    I also work at a few Jr. High Schools in Kyoto, and have experienced much of the same frustration. I was talking about this with my girlfriend. She was saying that, just like in America, there are those certain (very vocal) parents who raise hell if a teacher tries to discipline their child. At one of my schools I tapped a student on the shoulder to get his attention. When he turned around and saw it was me, and not a fellow student, the first words out of his mouth were, “Don’t ever touch me again, or I’ll sue you.” All I wanted was to give him his pencil back. So much for being nice.
    At the Elementary school that I work at, the conditions are not much better. In fact, if anything they are worse. The kids there don’t pay attention at all, they run away in the middle of class, they fight in the middle of class, and they almost hit the teacher several times (she’s a tiny little woman too, probably only about 90 lbs. Some of the students (go-nensei) are bigger than her). One of the little boys keeps molesting me. He runs up to me, hugs me, and yells “大好き!” If I try to push him away, he accuses me of trying to feel his breasts. His exact words: 何でおっぱいを触ってんの? A 10 year old boy! WTF!?!
    Then today at work, there was a big teachers meeting before classes started. I wasn’t paying much attention, but I gathered that they were talking about a girl and her mother having problems. Later in class, the girl in question was with a different section. When I asked the teacher why she wasn’t with her normal section, he explained that her mother had kicked her out of the house, and she had spent the night at her friends house (her friend was in that section, so she decided to stick with her for the day). Not only that, the mother had not tried to locate her daughter at all. No calls to the school, no calls to any of her friends’ houses, no calls to the police. And this is a ni-nensei girl! As if the bullies in school are not scary enough, this poor girl has to deal with an evil mother who doesn’t even give a damn if her 13 year old daughter is sleeping under a bridge in the middle of December. It’s a messed up situation we got here, and like you said, nothing will change unless a complete drastic overhaul of the system occurs.

  55. Anonymous said, on December 21, 2006 at 10:21 am

    I also work at a few Jr. High Schools in Kyoto, and have experienced much of the same frustration. I was talking about this with my girlfriend. She was saying that, just like in America, there are those certain (very vocal) parents who raise hell if a teacher tries to discipline their child. At one of my schools I tapped a student on the shoulder to get his attention. When he turned around and saw it was me, and not a fellow student, the first words out of his mouth were, “Don’t ever touch me again, or I’ll sue you.” All I wanted was to give him his pencil back. So much for being nice.
    At the Elementary school that I work at, the conditions are not much better. In fact, if anything they are worse. The kids there don’t pay attention at all, they run away in the middle of class, they fight in the middle of class, and they almost hit the teacher several times (she’s a tiny little woman too, probably only about 90 lbs. Some of the students (go-nensei) are bigger than her). One of the little boys keeps molesting me. He runs up to me, hugs me, and yells “大好き!” If I try to push him away, he accuses me of trying to feel his breasts. His exact words: 何でおっぱいを触ってんの? A 10 year old boy! WTF!?!
    Then today at work, there was a big teachers meeting before classes started. I wasn’t paying much attention, but I gathered that they were talking about a girl and her mother having problems. Later in class, the girl in question was with a different section. When I asked the teacher why she wasn’t with her normal section, he explained that her mother had kicked her out of the house, and she had spent the night at her friends house (her friend was in that section, so she decided to stick with her for the day). Not only that, the mother had not tried to locate her daughter at all. No calls to the school, no calls to any of her friends’ houses, no calls to the police. And this is a ni-nensei girl! As if the bullies in school are not scary enough, this poor girl has to deal with an evil mother who doesn’t even give a damn if her 13 year old daughter is sleeping under a bridge in the middle of December. It’s a messed up situation we got here, and like you said, nothing will change unless a complete drastic overhaul of the system occurs.

  56. Cloak said, on December 22, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    Azrael,
    I believe you have a responsibility as an adult and a human being to do more than you are doing about this problem. Merely giving up and saying “It’s the Japanese’s problem, they’re the only ones who can fix it” is not going to stop kids from being bullied.
    What if one of your own students committed suicide? Think about that for a second. Would you honestly be able to sit back, shrug, and say there was nothing you could do?
    I’m not suggesting you go on a crusade. I’m saying, as a teacher, an adult, and a human being, you need to be proactive about this. Talk to your principles, talk at the PTA’s, ask for solutions from the parents and your administration, and offer changes that you think would help.
    But please Az, don’t just do nothing man. That’s not right.

  57. Azrael said, on December 22, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    You need to realize, when I say “there’s nothing I can do”, that’s not “I’m too lazy to try”, it really actually seriously is “there’s nothing I can do”.
    We watch Hollywood fiction about that one outsider who stands up and says “this isn’t right!” and miraculously, everyone has a change of heart. But that’s why we call it fiction.
    Not every solution has to be on the hero scale. Sometimes you do what you can as the supporting character. Supporting characters don’t win battles, they don’t even start them. They do what they can in the situation they’re given.

  58. NT said, on December 26, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Worst thing about the education system of Japan is they can get away…… I mean, brag about it. Sure, there are lots of young bastards out there, but statistics shows that the academic standing of schools in Japan is higher than some countries who enforces more discipline. Another reason that they can get away with it is because of economy. Japanese students may complain about how difficult it is to find jobs in Japan all they want, but they can get one anyway, without studies, since like Az said, only henious crimes and death can prevent the students from graduating. (I just hope I’m wrong though)
    And here they are having problems with hikkikomori when one of the primary reasons of “hikkikomori boom” is bullying.

  59. Cloak said, on December 27, 2006 at 4:02 am

    Once again Az, just think about one of your kids killing themselves. If that happened, would you be able to say there was nothing you could do?

  60. Azrael said, on December 27, 2006 at 5:16 am

    It doesn’t matter if one kid, ten kids, or the entire class decided to commit suicide. There is NOTHING I can do. It would be very sad, but it doesn’t change the fact that, as a foreigner in a very xenophobic/in-group society, my role is not one that can affect change.
    Even if I tried, the response would be “this foreigner, who can’t even speak Japanese (even though I do) comes to our schools a few hours a day for a few years and think he knows enough about OUR schools to tell US it’s fucked up and WE need to change it? Pure rubbish!” And then, while things don’t change, I’d make life for myself very hard and even further limit the already few things I can do.
    It may not be romantic or heroic or like you see in the movies, but this is reality. There. Is. Nothing. I. Can. Do. I, or any foreigner living and working in Japan. If a change is going to happen, it’s up to the Japanese to do it (as it kind of should be). And unless you’ve lived and worked here, you can’t say “But…” with any sort of validity behind it. I don’t know how to spell it out any clearer than that.

  61. Bandersnatch said, on December 28, 2006 at 5:21 am

    Ever seen the movie 187? Az…you could be the Samuel L. Jackson character. Just leave the russian roulette part out okay?

  62. Alifay said, on December 28, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    You are my hero.

  63. Runs With Scissors said, on January 2, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    It’s hard not to be all “you should change the way people think” sitting in front of my computer terminal, but you’re absolutely right. You’re job isn’t to be a hero, it’s to be a teacher, a mentor, and a friend to these kids. You may not change the system but you’ll sure as hell help a few lucky kids beat it.

  64. Anonymous said, on January 7, 2007 at 3:38 am

    My 2 bits. I was teaching at my own ghetto school. 2nenseis. The Japanese teacher had disappeared upstairs to allegedly make photocopies, leaving me alone with the jackals.
    I was three months away from finishing as an ALT. I had managed to get by for most of my term on the cool of being “exotic” but when one of the tough guys made a show of crumpling up the handout that I had gave him (and that I had made) and continuing on with his loud conversation with the kid behind him, I was fed up. I stopped the class and asked him if he was fluent at English. Because if he was so good that he didn’t need to listen or study, maybe he should be at the front of the class. I invited him up and he froze. I invited him again. The rest of the class was staring at tough guy and you could of heard a pin drop. Finally I said that if he wasn’t going to teach the class for me, he should at least shut up so I could do it.
    I had no more problems that day. When the teacher came back he was happily surprised. The problem was, from that point on that kid (and thus his friends) *hated* me, and did everything they could to get back at me. Which affected me not at all — but I can see how tough that would make things for a Japanese teacher. They have absolutely no backup from the administration, which means they have a very fine line to walk when it comes to classroom management.
    Anyway, I think your take on it is right on the money. It’s easy to criticize ALTs and Japanese teachers, but finding a way to handle the kinds that works in the long and short terms is very very hard.

  65. Anonymous said, on January 7, 2007 at 3:38 am

    My 2 bits. I was teaching at my own ghetto school. 2nenseis. The Japanese teacher had disappeared upstairs to allegedly make photocopies, leaving me alone with the jackals.
    I was three months away from finishing as an ALT. I had managed to get by for most of my term on the cool of being “exotic” but when one of the tough guys made a show of crumpling up the handout that I had gave him (and that I had made) and continuing on with his loud conversation with the kid behind him, I was fed up. I stopped the class and asked him if he was fluent at English. Because if he was so good that he didn’t need to listen or study, maybe he should be at the front of the class. I invited him up and he froze. I invited him again. The rest of the class was staring at tough guy and you could of heard a pin drop. Finally I said that if he wasn’t going to teach the class for me, he should at least shut up so I could do it.
    I had no more problems that day. When the teacher came back he was happily surprised. The problem was, from that point on that kid (and thus his friends) *hated* me, and did everything they could to get back at me. Which affected me not at all — but I can see how tough that would make things for a Japanese teacher. They have absolutely no backup from the administration, which means they have a very fine line to walk when it comes to classroom management.
    Anyway, I think your take on it is right on the money. It’s easy to criticize ALTs and Japanese teachers, but finding a way to handle the kinds that works in the long and short terms is very very hard.

  66. Random Gaijin said, on January 8, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Man and i thought schools in detroit sucked. (Yes i live in detroit.) I feel that things should change in the schools over there. You should do try what Kalailah said, give the good kids special treatment, and the bad ones nothing. It just might work.

  67. Jonah Rapp said, on January 13, 2007 at 2:28 am

    I’m not a teacher. I’ve spent the last thirteen years since I got out of high school sorting out my own mental and emotional much visited upon my by bullies and bad teachers. But I am seriousyl starting to cinsider something in that general arena.
    I’ve lived in Japan. I AM American. One thing the two countries have in common is a profound inertia to their educational systems and the fact that quite a few parents and communities are not doing a terribly good job with their kids. I point to the Columbine incident of almost a decade ago as a good example. Everyone was so quick to blame gaming, the internet, violent movies, web sites about the Nazis… Buffalo Biscuits! I level the finger firmly at the parents of those boys. I endured merciless bullying through elementary and middle school. I fantasised many times about visiting violent bloody deaths on the perpetrators and enablers. But I didn’t. Mostly because my parents, if nothing else, instilled in me a respect for human life that superceded my desire for bloody vengeance.
    It all comes down to personal responsibility. There’s an old saying that I love: “You can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.” No one can force people to change their minds. It has to come from within. All you can do is be an example. After that, it comes down to the parents and teachers and students all accepting personal responsibility for everything that happens in their lives. Or doesn’t. Rather than foisting the blame off on someone else.
    I do my level best where I can. I know quite a few people in junior high and high school who are wonderful human beings, and I make sure they know that, and encourage them to hang onto who they know they are, in the face of people who are mean and stupid and do their best to hurt them. Sometimes, all it takes is one person saying “you’re worthwhile” to undo the damage of a whole peer group of dickheads.
    Az, I know the frustration you feel at being unable to effect serious change, but I acknowledge you for encouraging the good kids. Who knows — maybe you even kept one of them from committing suicide because of who you were for them. Reach the ones you can, Az. 🙂

  68. Anonymous said, on January 22, 2007 at 3:42 am

    Japan is an extreme case, but problems like that are widespread in all public schools in the industrialized world. Kids have the right to education, and since it’s a public school, the most you can do is suspend them for a while, give them detention… Sending them off is only taken as a last ditch measure, if they get so violent it’s impossible to manage them. At least in Europe and in the US, if the kid can’t get his work done, he won’t pass and will eventually have to drop out. It seems to me that in Japan, schools are nice places to socialize, and that “cram schools” are where parents expect their children to learn… But I might be wrong.

  69. Anonymous said, on January 22, 2007 at 3:42 am

    Japan is an extreme case, but problems like that are widespread in all public schools in the industrialized world. Kids have the right to education, and since it’s a public school, the most you can do is suspend them for a while, give them detention… Sending them off is only taken as a last ditch measure, if they get so violent it’s impossible to manage them. At least in Europe and in the US, if the kid can’t get his work done, he won’t pass and will eventually have to drop out. It seems to me that in Japan, schools are nice places to socialize, and that “cram schools” are where parents expect their children to learn… But I might be wrong.

  70. Gus said, on January 31, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Like someone said up there, reward the good kids and maybe (just maybe) the bad kids might change. Its easier said than done but it usually works.

  71. Wraith_Magus said, on February 14, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    After reading this post, and spending some time trying to supress the urge to “go vigilante” on some of these bullies, I think I’ve come to a realization that the only way something might be done about this is simply through archiving the incidents. I realize that now that you’re no longer in the JET program, so all you could do is contact your old associates and ask them to do this, but…
    A little over a hundred years ago, around the Carolinas, child laborers were horribly treated in the textile factories. No number of statistics or individual stories made any difference to people who didn’t care. It was only when photographers produced hundreds of photos of dozens of factories,and showed the exact conditions the kids lived in that the people actually started to care.
    If you can convince teachers to somehow record the bullies with their cell phone cameras, and talk them into talking the kids into keeping notes of everytime they get bullied, and can compile hundreds of cases and a couple hours of video from each school, even the most callous PTA would grant the teachers at least some leeway in discipline.

  72. Megan Jones said, on February 16, 2007 at 1:25 am

    I work as a JET in Gunma-ken. I can speak Japanese, so I ususally understand all of the crap that goes on in my school. I live in the middle of the mountains, straight up inaka, and although the kids aren’t bad, most of them are selfish little bastards and never study. So much for children in the countryside being good. I completely agree with you that Japanese schools, the PTA, and the parents are fucked up and need to be changed, otherwise the future of the country will be very interesting.

  73. Anonymous said, on February 21, 2007 at 4:52 am

    I know I’m like, thread rezzing or whatever (what can I say, these editorials are usually very amusing, and it’s fun to read them after a while’s absence).
    But anyway, somehow following a link found on the Mega Mac editorial I found myself reading this:
    http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070221p2a00m0na021000c.html
    Perhaps good news finally?

  74. Anonymous said, on February 21, 2007 at 4:52 am

    I know I’m like, thread rezzing or whatever (what can I say, these editorials are usually very amusing, and it’s fun to read them after a while’s absence).
    But anyway, somehow following a link found on the Mega Mac editorial I found myself reading this:
    http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20070221p2a00m0na021000c.html
    Perhaps good news finally?

  75. Anonymous said, on March 13, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I am amazed that the bullIes don’t see theIr behavIor as a poor reflectIon on themselves. What about the Idea that how you treat ppl Is a bIg part of how ppl see you?
    Would shamIng the students do anythIng for the stealIng problems?
    When they taKe somethIng maybe the teacher could tell them that even If theIr famIly has fallen on hard tImes they should stay strong and not become a theIf.
    And to tell the parents IndIrectly they could call the parents and asK If they need to apply for a subsIdIzed lunch because theIr KId can’t seems to need money from other KIds.
    sorry for the typIng IrregularItIes but thIs computer Is not 100%

  76. Anonymous said, on March 13, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    I am amazed that the bullIes don’t see theIr behavIor as a poor reflectIon on themselves. What about the Idea that how you treat ppl Is a bIg part of how ppl see you?
    Would shamIng the students do anythIng for the stealIng problems?
    When they taKe somethIng maybe the teacher could tell them that even If theIr famIly has fallen on hard tImes they should stay strong and not become a theIf.
    And to tell the parents IndIrectly they could call the parents and asK If they need to apply for a subsIdIzed lunch because theIr KId can’t seems to need money from other KIds.
    sorry for the typIng IrregularItIes but thIs computer Is not 100%

  77. sycolution said, on March 13, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    I hope your wrong as well. For some strange reason, even after reading through your archives, I still want to be an english teacher over there and I’m studying japanese right now to make it an easier transition. (I’m only in my first semester of it but I’ll get there). Whilst reading these bullying ones I thought of holding some sort of youth outreach program that the bullied kids can go to and tell how they feel and ask what they can do to feel better about themselves and to block out the namecalling and stuff. I thought of this cause I’m a survivor of bad bullying myself. What do you think?

  78. Kelley said, on April 6, 2007 at 12:24 am

    It sounds like a large part of the bullying problem has to do with the parents. If these children don’t understand the concept of authority, discipline, consequences, and respect, it’s probably because these concepts are not being taught to them at home. I’m sure that the parents know their children are brats, but it sounds like they are in a huge amount of denial and are reluctant to have to actually stand up and whip out the ol’ spanking spoon, so to speak.
    We would all like to see Az go in and turn around Ghetto school into a happy, welcoming place. But the problem goes much deeper than he is able to even scratch the surface of. Az can’t reform Japanese family life and education system, no matter how awesome he may be.
    I think it’s best to keep the Moeko Principle in mind. Just as much as the bad students need an ear boxed, the good students need an encouraging word and a little extra attention. Tell the girl who wants to be a nurse that she looks beautiful today.

  79. Marko said, on April 27, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Sounds like a catch 22 situation. I’d like to recommend that this to be brought to the authorities but as Gaijin says they are hesitant to make changes.
    Doesn’t mean that we can’t try. If the USA (which is good a twisting the arms of other countries) were to stand up and point out this i’m sure there would be some change, if only on the surface.

  80. Anonymous said, on June 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    It’s not as bad in America, but there are still aspects of it. I’m a bigger guy, at over 7′ so the bullies always steered clear of me, but not all of my friends and acquaintances were so lucky. I remember walking down the halls one time, and seeing two asshats picking on one of my classmates, a real runt of a kid. I wasn’t friends with him, but he was a nice, kind fellow. One of them was choking him, while the other punched him in the stomach repeatedly. I was disgusted, and tried to help him out, and essentially got into a fight with the two bullies. After the teachers(Who had seen this all, but done nothing) pulled me off of them, I was suspended for two weeks for fighting, and get this, bullying. The two ‘victims’ got one days detention. The real victim even explained what had actually happened to the faculty, but it fell on mostly deaf ears. Why? The bullies were the sons of the Super Intendant.

  81. Anonymous said, on June 27, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    It’s not as bad in America, but there are still aspects of it. I’m a bigger guy, at over 7′ so the bullies always steered clear of me, but not all of my friends and acquaintances were so lucky. I remember walking down the halls one time, and seeing two asshats picking on one of my classmates, a real runt of a kid. I wasn’t friends with him, but he was a nice, kind fellow. One of them was choking him, while the other punched him in the stomach repeatedly. I was disgusted, and tried to help him out, and essentially got into a fight with the two bullies. After the teachers(Who had seen this all, but done nothing) pulled me off of them, I was suspended for two weeks for fighting, and get this, bullying. The two ‘victims’ got one days detention. The real victim even explained what had actually happened to the faculty, but it fell on mostly deaf ears. Why? The bullies were the sons of the Super Intendant.

  82. Anonymous said, on August 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Teach the good kids how to throw a punch.
    Bullies stop bothering you after you break someones nose.

  83. Anonymous said, on August 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Teach the good kids how to throw a punch.
    Bullies stop bothering you after you break someones nose.

  84. Jesse said, on October 1, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    I think stuff like the Beat Takeshi (is it Takashi or Takeshi? I can never remember) documentary is a step in the right direction. I also think Az’s concern is a step in the right direction. This is part of the reason JET was founded, after all. Imagine if all ALTs ignored the bullies. Things may start small, but they build.
    Az rocks.

  85. Anonymous said, on November 11, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Doesn’t help if the bullies can throw a better punch than the good kid.
    I’m amazed that there hasn’t been an American ALT with the temper to just go all-out Onizuka on some kids. Yeah he’d get jailed and/or deported, but if it were widely publicized it could set a major precedent for “Don’t fuck around with the ALTs unless you like bedpans and meals through a tube.” But I suppose that would reflect badly on the international level…
    I’m partial to the idea of documenting all this abuse. I’m sure the pea-sized cell phones there have video recording. It’s really sad that faculty just accepts it. Sounds like they really just need to bring corporal punishment back to Japan. Again though… if you could find one of them all alone, who would the authorities believe? Some little bastard and maybe a couple other pricks or the gaijin all the good students love?.. . On second thought, don’t answer that.

  86. Anonymous said, on November 11, 2007 at 8:19 am

    Doesn’t help if the bullies can throw a better punch than the good kid.
    I’m amazed that there hasn’t been an American ALT with the temper to just go all-out Onizuka on some kids. Yeah he’d get jailed and/or deported, but if it were widely publicized it could set a major precedent for “Don’t fuck around with the ALTs unless you like bedpans and meals through a tube.” But I suppose that would reflect badly on the international level…
    I’m partial to the idea of documenting all this abuse. I’m sure the pea-sized cell phones there have video recording. It’s really sad that faculty just accepts it. Sounds like they really just need to bring corporal punishment back to Japan. Again though… if you could find one of them all alone, who would the authorities believe? Some little bastard and maybe a couple other pricks or the gaijin all the good students love?.. . On second thought, don’t answer that.

  87. James T said, on March 19, 2008 at 8:42 am

    I reckon you should do a GTO. In your case, a GTJ.
    It sucks that the good kids get bullied and the bullies don’t get any punishment. I was bullied when I was smaller during preschool although it wasn’t too serious. But, even though it wasn’t serious, I had the balls to stand up for myself. They were kinda running after me with sticks so I picked up a big stick myself and tried to hit them back but that didn’t do anything cause they just keep grabbing the stick I swung. Right now, I guess I’m living a great life.
    Anyway, I think one thing that you could do is to help the victims stand up for themselves. Although it does not directly affect the bullies, and the victim might get bullied even more, the victim should learn to be strong and stay strong.For guys, I guess they respect that and I would too but I’m not so sure for girls.
    If bullying is not too serious, one should tolerate it, e.g. if it’s like name-calling. I despise people who try to pick fights because something derogative was said about them. If someone tries to pick a fight with me, I would try to back out but if it repeatedly happens then it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to go all out even if they would get smacked around a bit. Eventually other people would sympathise for you and may also respect you as well. It’s better to do this than suffer for the rest of high school or something.
    One other reason that bullying occurs so often is because of the kids’ upbringing. They might be disciplined, studying and stuff, but they are probably spoiled in other ways by their parents. Kind of like, they need to toughen up as a kid. This is just my opinion though.

  88. Anonymous said, on July 28, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    have you ever tried the old switcheroo on the bullying front, bully the bullies, call them names, turn the class against them get everyone to pretend they don’t exist. it works quite well in my experience of dealing with bullies. the class clown’s not funny when nobody’s laughing and the bully isn’t a threat when nobody’s scared.

  89. Anonymous said, on July 28, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    have you ever tried the old switcheroo on the bullying front, bully the bullies, call them names, turn the class against them get everyone to pretend they don’t exist. it works quite well in my experience of dealing with bullies. the class clown’s not funny when nobody’s laughing and the bully isn’t a threat when nobody’s scared.

  90. NeN said, on August 16, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I can definitely see where you’re coming from. It took the atomic bomb, last time Japan needed a major change. As hard as it is to state the limits of human ignorance, if there are any, we’re all human though, and have been moulded by our environments, experiences, and history. I don’t think it’s ever literally impossible for any human to be considered completely beyond reason and redemption, as long as their are things that have shaped their identities and their free will is in place, but it’s entirely understandable for a person to say that, within reason and for all intents and purposes, it really just about is. And yet, I still can’t help but see foreigners telling them off as a good thing, regardless of how they react to it at the time – at least that way, when the consequences of their reality fully play themselves out (i.e., two of their cities exploding), they actually have something to remember and think “Ah, crap…they were right. Again.” Children seem to learn from repeated mistakes and subsequent consequences in line with the guidance they were given, so I can see how it could work with a society.
    I think you’re definitely on to something with the sports club thing, and clubs in general. Considering the circumstances, if the PTA made a stink, I’d personally consider that at least on battle worth fighting for schools. They NEEED to get a foothold somewhere.

  91. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Japan needs a Columbine or a Virginia Tech. A good thing would be to give all the bullied kids guns so they can start shooting the bullies’ asses off. Say whatever you want, I’ve been bullied and i learned that violence is the only answer. Physical or mental torture, either way is a good solution.

  92. Anonymous said, on June 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Japan needs a Columbine or a Virginia Tech. A good thing would be to give all the bullied kids guns so they can start shooting the bullies’ asses off. Say whatever you want, I’ve been bullied and i learned that violence is the only answer. Physical or mental torture, either way is a good solution.


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