Lab Article 2022 Vol.3
On Monday, August 22nd, all of the elementary and secondary school teachers and staff participated in the Bullying prevention program “Triple-Change: Basic”.
The scars of children caused by bullying in our country is a very serious and critical problem. According to a report by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in October 2021, the number of recognized bullying cases has drastically increased since 2015. Despite the enactment of the "Law for the Promotion of Anti-Bullying Measures" in 2013, in response to the loss of precious lives of children due to bullying, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology issued a policy notice in 2015 regarding systematic measures to deal with bullying.
This sharp increase is seen as a result of the fact that high school distance-learning programs are now included in the survey, and that the definition of bullying itself has been modified and various policies and guidelines have been issued since then, allowing schools and educational institutions to become more aware of bullying.
However, 86.4% of elementary schools, 82.2% of middle schools, and 54.5% of high schools recognized bullying.
What this might mean is, when schools were asked “Has there been bullying in your school?”, about a half up to 80% of them answered “There were bullying,” and others said “There wasn’t bullying.”
It makes us wonder what behavior is identified as “bullying,” and how many teachers were “aware” of bullying among their students. (Figure 1)
Figure1 (MEXT, 2020.)
Another result shows the status of their responses to bullying among the schools that recognized bullying. 77.4% of those elementary, secondary and special education schools reported that the cases have been resolved by the end of the school year, and the rest claimed they were still in the process of resolving.
Figure (MEXT, 2020.)
The news and reports on the media are extremely shocking and heartbreaking, but those data allow us to see other perspectives.
Preventing bullying at KIA
In this professional development program, teachers and staff learn:
Definition of bullying: in the Japanese law, MEXT, and research studies
"A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself (Olweus, 1991, 1993)."
【Keywords that help to identify behaviors and signs that lead to bullying】
- Negative action(s) that cause physical and psychological pain
- Victimization of one or more persons
- Repeated action(s)
Situations where bullying becomes serious: unbalanced power, thinking error
【Situations where bullying become more serious: keywords】
People tend to have power differences between individuals and groups. In adults’, the power differences include:
- Boss and the employee
- Senior member and newer member
- Those who do the work well and those who don’t
- Those who are good at socializing and those who aren’t
- The wealthy and the less wealthy
- Men and women・・・etc。
If we use the power with or without intention to hurt or tease others, it’s called “power harrassment”. Therefore, we need to have knowledge and be able to be careful when interacting with others. Especially those who are in higher power need to be extra careful.
In children’s lives, the power relationship is more subtle, and because we, adults have experienced more or less, we fall into the thinking that “we were able to overcome the struggles”. And overlook the children’s struggles and the behaviors that hurt others’ including feelings.
There are differences depending on the children’s age and developmental stages, the power relationships that happen among children include:
- Older student and younger student
- Those who are high in academics and those who aren’t
- Those who are good at sports and those who aren’t
- Those who are good at talking (expressing) and those who are quiet
- Physically well-built, and thin and small
- Those who are with many friends, and those who have less friends
- Those who are active and quick, and those who are slow
- Impacts of bullying on: the bullies, the victims, and the bystanders
The power of bystanders: bystanders have the power to stop the bullying in a few seconds
Resources used for this image: 教職員共済, 文部科学省, 学校を変える：いじめの科学
【The power of bystanders: they can stop the bullying in a few seconds】
At a few schools in Europe and the US, the researchers analyzed video recordings of children playing at the playground. “There were children who were neither the bullies or the victims in the 85% of the situations identified as bullying. In other words, there were bystanders.” (Wakuta, 2021). In many cases, there are children who witness the bullying behaviors. Moreover, research showed that many of the bystanders think they need to or want to do something, but they are afraid of retaliation if they did something, or not know what to do. (Triple-Change: Basic, 2022)
Case studies (Referenced parts of the program contents of Triple-Change: Basic)4th grader Satoru is a student who is kind and moves slowly. One day, you saw Satoru alone in the classroom. When you asked him what happened, Satoru said “Takashi left his hat and told me to get it for him. He always asks me to do favors for him.” Indeed, Takashi is good at soccer, but he has been irritated recently and being harsh on Satoru. When you asked Satoru why he is always doing a favor for him, he said “Because I’m slow, and there’s nothing I can do,” and has some tears in his eyes.
- Is this bullying?
- How will you respond to this? (If you were their classroom teacher, a teacher for the other class, a head teacher, a school management)
What schools can do to prevent bullying: Whole school approach as Response To Intervention (RTI) model, learning about the definition of bullying and the keywords to identify the situation where bullying becomes more serious, and teaching “Stop (tell the other to stop), Walk away (walk away from the bullying), and Help (ask for help/help the victim)”.
The professional development program is designed by a group of researchers from an agency in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka: “Child Developmental Research Institute” to meet the needs of Japanese schools, based on the research studies on bullying and prevention programs done in Europe and the United States.
“Triple-Change” expresses the 3 changes that lead to preventing bullying.
- Cognitive change: to know what bullying is, and to realize the behavior and situation that lead to bullying
- Behavior change: to change our actions and words due to evidence-based knowledge
- Climate change: by increasing people who can take correct actions, the community as a whole increases the atmosphere where bullying is hard to occur
Moreover, we held a program “BE A HERO project” catered for students and teachers, and even parents/guardians.
This year, we already included students from kindergarten, elementary up to secondary school at Kobe campus and their teachers as mandatory participation, and parents/guardians as voluntary participation.
“HERO” is an acronym for English keywords that are the thinking and actions, given the evidence by many research studies.
It shouldn’t feel embarrassing to ask for help. Help if someone is being bullied.
Think from the person’s perspective.
Everyone is valued, and treated with respect.
Make an effort to accept everyone.
(BE A HERO Project, 2022)
Our understanding, strategies and procedures to respond to bullying is at a level we are beginning to develop yet, but our aim is for every member of the entire school community to gain evidence-based knowledge and understanding, and be caring and have empathy in interacting with each other.
Resource used to develop the image: 学校を変える いじめの科学p.120
和久田学 (2021) 『学校を変える いじめの科学』日本評論社
BE A HEROプロジェクト（https://be-a-hero-project.com/）
S. Sugimori. Anatomy of child bullying in Japan 2: bullying in different cultures - differences and similarities in bullying between countries. <https://www.childresearch.net/papers/school/2013_02.html>