After scandal at Shiga shocked the nation, a survey of over a million Japanese has revealed the unshocking truth of bullying in Japan – that most Japanese have been bullied, some 40% have got in on the action themselves, and that massive numbers have considered killing themselves as a result of the torment inflicted.
The survey, conducted online by NicoNico Douga, probably ranks as one of the largest ever taken of Japanese, with 1,072,014 participants.
Asking whether respondents had ever been bullied at school or college, they found 57.2% of those asked had, with women slightly more frequently victimised at 60.5% to men’s 54.1%.
Unsurprisingly for an all but universal social phenomenon, there was little difference between the areas with the highest reported incidence (Kanto and Kyoto with nearly 60% having been bullied) and those with the lowest (various backwater prefectures with only 50%).
Also unsurprisingly given the Japanese love of preserving “harmonious” relations, most bullying manifested itself indirectly – 32% experienced malign gossip and ostracism, 19.3% experienced insults and “verbal violence,” 15.6% had their possessions hidden or destroyed, and 12.6% were outright assaulted.
Gossip and exclusion were far more prevalent against women (38.3%) than men (25.%), with men instead finding themselves beaten up twice as much (17.6% vs 9.9%).
Most tragically given recent events and the noted preference of young Japanese for killing themselves rather than anyone else in response to such abuse, fully 27.4% of bullying victims had considered suicide, and a further 8.6% “couldn’t remember” whether they had done so.
54.3% of victims found they had nobody to turn to, with the rest favouring family (26.5%) or even teachers (10%).
Most unsurprisingly of all given the preference of Japanese schools for covering up any and all untoward events, over half of all those who did seek help failed to see an end to the bullying – 21.5% saw it continue unabated, 2.6% saw it worsen, 24.4% saw it lighten, and only 36.8% saw it abate completely. 14.7% reported an “other” outcome.
Few Japanese seemed to think the victim could do anything about their own situation, let alone best the bullies – in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, 26.9% thought teachers were the best way of ending bullying and 22.6% hoped a vanishingly rare police intercession would be the best way of tackling it.
9.7% believed a school counsellor might actually be of some use, 9.4% thought rules against bullying were the answer (perhaps overlooking the fact most schools already have them for whatever good they do), 4.9% saw inter-parental negotiations as best, and a charmingly optimistic 12.7% thought the key was the victim talking things out with their tormentor.
As to the bullies, nearly half of respondents were prepared to admit to bullying – 15.9% “had experience of bullying,” and 26.7% had committed acts “which might in reflection have been considered bullying by the victim.” However, 68.9% of these bullies had been bullied themselves as well.
Finally, of the nearly two thirds of Japanese who had witnessed bullying, 54% pretended to see nothing, 12.3% tried to help, 10.1% tattled, 5.6% asked friends and 2.4% actually joined in.