February 11, 2007
Written by C.N.
Similar to the U.S., Japan has apparently been experiencing a rise in bullying by schoolchildren against each other. As BBC News reports, many feel that the way to cut down on such bullying incidents is to reinstate corporal punishment:
Japanese schools should rethink their decades-old ban on corporal punishment, a government-appointed panel has urged. The report, submitted amid growing concern over bullying, stopped short of overtly backing beating, but suggested an end to a policy of leniency. Bullying was found to be involved in 14 of 40 youth suicides from 1999 to 2005 in a country where pupils are also under great pressure to perform well. . . .
Alarmed by the trend of bullying deaths, the panel, chaired by the Nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori, urged schools last November to punish classroom bullies and crack down on teachers who ignored the problem. . . . Japan’s education minister had previously denied bullying was a factor in the youth suicide rate.
As an educator and parent of an elementary school student myself, I consider bullying to be a very real problem whose consequences Americans are only beginning to understand. To me, education is not just about learning to read, write, and do math — it’s also about the larger social environment that can either encourage and facilitate a love of learning, or lead to alienation and despair. Clearly, a large part of that social environment is a student’s peers and how they treat each other.
Back to Japan’s proposals, I’m not sure if direct physical punishment is the most constructive way to address the bullying problem (it may teach offending children to just use violence to solve their problems), but I do agree that schools and teachers need to do a better job at cracking down on bullies, and to be held accountable if they fail to do so.
I also think some forms of corporal punishment, outside of beating a student, may be appropriate if they send the message that certain behavior will not be tolerated and that there will be real consequences for such behavior. Schools and teachers need to know where encouragement and understanding end, and coddling destructive behavior begins.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japan Reconsidering Corporal Punishment" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/02/japan-reconsidering-corporal-punishment/> ().
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