By DAISAKU IKEDA
Disturbing incidents of bullying continue to make the news. We hear daily of the tragedy of children who, unable to endure the harassment and violence inflicted on them by peers and classmates, are driven to suicide.
It is heartbreaking to think of the pain and despair that would cause a child to take his or her life, the devastating grief and regret of their families.
Bullying is not a sickness unique to Japan. But the kinds of extreme bullying that can lead even to suicide have as their background the closed and insular nature of Japanese society. People of strong individuality, who have some quality that shines or stands out, are often the target of jealousy, branded as different and strange.
As such, they may be subjected to an organized effort to ignore and ostracize them, leaving them feeling as if their very existence has been denied. Such isolation can be accompanied by threats, extortion and physical violence. Some children may become active supporters of the bullying while others, fearful that they will be targeted next, remain passive bystanders.
This dynamic reflects a deep-rooted pathology within Japanese society. It is rare for parents and teachers to muster the courage and solidarity to confront such bullying.
What would also appear to be unique to Japan is a particular quickness to blame the victim. There is a widely if unconsciously held notion that the victims of bullying are themselves at least partly responsible for their plight. This way of thinking acts to justify bullying as well as the indifference that allows it to continue.
To be continued in part 2
Daisaku Ikeda is president of Soka Gakkai International, and founder of Soka University and the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research. This column appears on this page the second Thursday of every month.
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007
2013 Posted by Cynthia Klein, Certified Parent Educator, bridges 2 understanding, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com. 650.341.0779, contact Cynthia for private parent coaching and professional speaking.