Monday, July 21, 2008

Entry for November 01, 2006

"Ijime ha yokunai."
Bullying is bad.

Well, of course it is.

(This is one of my "let's show the 2-person readership that the Pumpkin Mommy has things on her mind other than the Pumpkin Princess" posts, so be warned!)

The past couple of weeks, the Japanese news has been filled with reports of teenage suicide associated with bullying. The media attacks the school system, the school system tries to protect itself (and the bullies), the media (and the victim's parents) attack some more, and then you get TV footage of the schoolteachers and the school board officials bowing their heads or on their hands and knees in apology.

I suppose the schools are partly to blame, and the bullies (and their parents) are to blame, but I also think that Japanese society and culture are to blame as well. (Plus, don't the media attacks qualify as a form of bullying??)

1. Japanese tend to follow strong leaders. Likely every culture has the same percentage of potential bullies (borderlike personalities/ sadists/ kids with abusive parents who don't know any different). But an American kid who sees a bully doing his/ her stuff will at best put a stop to it, and even at worst probably be like "um, whatever". At worst, a Japanese kid will join the bully (who is a strong leader in his/ her own way). And at worst happens more often than it would in another culture.

2. Japanese tend to take subtle hints. Overt words are frowned upon, and when they are used, they are seen as a very strong message. So if someone tells you to your face you are "gross", you naturally assume you are pretty darned gross to have actually earned the remark. Plus, insignificant remarks and gestures tend to make more marks than they would in other cultures.

So I'm beginning to wonder, what the bullying environment is like in cultures that share these characteristics? I'm thinking China and Korea share the above aspects, more than the Americas or the western European cultures do. so I'm interested in what the bullying culture (?) is like there.

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