Statement on Suicide Due to Bullying
Children driven to suicide by bullying are reported one after another.
Bullying is a serious violation of human rights, which obstacles growth and development of children and could even threaten their lives. Suicides because of bullying are one of the worst forms of such violation of human rights. Nothing but education protects children from this violation of human rights.
One of the purposes of education is to guarantee the respect for children's lives and the right to live and develop, and to raise a spirit to respect human rights. In order to raise a spirit to respect human rights, it is sufficient to improve the environment in which children feel that they are respected as human beings.
In December 1994 when suicides due to bullying were becoming a social problem, the President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) made a statement analyzing reasons for and mechanism of bullying behavior and pointing out the necessity to save children from bullying. Since then, the JFBA has been making various efforts to stop the tragedy. However, a recent series of suicides due to bullying raises the concern that the school environment which causes bullying has not been improved but even is worsening.
The government is reforming the education system aiming to "develop leaders" (the report released on December 22, 2000 by the National Commission on Educational Reform which was an advisory council for the Prime Minister). However, this reform is causing the negative consequences, that is, children with low achievement level are rather loosing their appetite for learning contrary to the nature of education that is to guarantee equal opportunity to improve scholastic ability, while children who aspire to be leaders tend not to care for others. In any event, this recent serious situation implies that children's stress is further increasing. At the same time, a research result on working conditions of teachers in public elementary and junior schools shows that teachers are too busy. It is difficult for the teachers who are under time constraints and emotional pressure to sensitively educate students responding to their individuality and development.
In June 1986, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child pointed out in its concluding observations over the report of the Japanese government that an excessively competitive education in schools resulted in stress and developmental disorders of children. Furthermore, it expressed its concerns about bullying and requested the government to undertake countermeasures.
The JFBA urges that the government should immediately improve the educational environment in which children's stress is increasing and should create an environment in which teachers are able to provide sensitive education for each child responding to his/her individuality and development. In addition, the government should immediately establish an independent institution such as an ombudsman for children's rights as the UN Committee's concluding observations recommended for ensuring the protection of human rights.
In order to improve the worsening environment around children's rights and the current situation that suicides due to bullying are increasing, the JFBA pledges to make every effort with bar associations by enhancing help desks such as the Children's Rights Hotline, cooperating and discussing with related bodies, and making recommendations.
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
December 8, 2006