I live in Japan and discipline is all controlled by the school teacher. My son goes to the local normal state elementary school. One boy's bad behavior is to block him from entering the classroom. We told the teacher once- first occurrence and the teacher got the child to apologize. But now it has happened several times and last time the child swung wildly around the class and my son tried to stop and the child tried to kick him in the crotch. Communication is only write in a contact book and the teacher might call but my wife is only available on Monday and Friday and the teacher has called several times on the other days. Should we keep his wish to not write to the teacher?

My son is 7 in 1st grade. The boy lives in our neighborhood and walks in his walking group- some part of the route is only them. His teacher said to him that she knew that the boy had been being wild in class but not that my son was threatened. A good chance the teacher doesn't know some of it- all classmates including mine is bad at communication. Mine has always been uncommunicative to me and my wife. At times all classmate have used fists as giving a message. I suspect there is anti-dobbing culture. The why is he had handle it.

My wife spoke to the teacher. The mother of the boy came to apologize but we weren't ready and we don't need it. The mother and father and child are doing an interview with the teacher next week. Hopefully this sorts it. Please bear in mind Japanese schools place all discipline into the home teacher's job. The teacher doesn't get much support in the classroom but there are student counsellors.


2 Answers 2


As a parent, you have to decide whether to intervene in situations with your child on a frequent basis. It's all a balancing act - do you intervene, and take away the learning experience, or do you not intervene, but risk leaving your child in a situation that will harm them and that they may not have the tools to handle?

Some of this depends on age - the older they are, the more likely they are to have the tools to handle situations. A seven year old can't handle as much as a sixteen year old! Also very relevant is the severity of the situation - a seven year old child having trouble with their friends because of one child wanting to play with another child (happened to my child about once a month around that age) is very different from a seven year old child being physically bullied.

Only you can decide, based on what you know of your child, whether they have the tools to handle this, and based on the severity of the situation. If it were me, and my child at seven, I'd not be talking to the teacher.

Instead, I'd be talking to the principal. You've already let the teacher know about this situation, and they haven't handled it, so the right next step is the principal, in my book. Particularly if this is part of the "culture" of the school, that's the person who needs to step in and change it.

Don't accept only written communication here - this is a place where you need to be having a face to face conversation (or, at least, zoom/video, if COVID regulations prohibit face to face). Make it clear to the principal the severity of the situation - this is physical bullying, and preventing your child from entering the classroom.

  • We sent a note. Another child was hitting him before and now they are best friends. My son tends to make hitting into a fighting game. Jul 7, 2022 at 22:44

In addition to Joe's good answer, I would point out that bullying is child abuse, and has the same long-term psychological impact as any other kind of physical abuse. There is nothing to "learn" from being a victim except helplessness, frustration and fear.

Therefore you need to take action to support your son. He has a right to be safe at school. If the school is not doing its job then you need to make them. Your son is probably hoping that if he avoids fighting back then the bullies will go easy on him, but that isn't how bullies work. The only way to make them back off is to bring authority to bear on them.

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