|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Far from going away, Japan's perennial school bullying problem has refined itself, shifting from the classrooms and schoolyards to more subtle attacks through the Internet, according to Weekly Playboy (5/28).
"Last year alone, the National Police Agency received 8,037 reported cases of online slander or defamation, a 39 percent increase over the previous year.
Of these, 57 developed into criminal defamation cases where arrests were made.
Both the number of reports and the number of arrests hit record highs," a police beat reporter for a national daily tells the weekly.
Bullies use their knowledge about their victims to set up fake sites to slur them, or hurl abuse at them on sites originally set up for information sharing between students.
"High school students have recognized for a while that there are plenty of problems with the sites set up for information exchanges between students.
These sites, called 'underground school sites,' are set up separately to school's official home pages.
They were supposed to be places where kids could swap information about all sorts of things, like exams and stuff, but instead they've become hotbeds of abuse, with some kids using them to post offensive material about other students," Internet crime expert Satoru Fujita tells Weekly Playboy.
"I've received a number of complaints from young people saying that their personal details, like their name, address, phone number, mobile number and the like have been posted on a school's underground site and they don't know what to do about it.
Once this information, or any sort of nasty story about someone, has been posted online, it opens up the victim to bullying from others in a wider group."
Psychological counselor Masako Fujii says that online bullying has arisen because it is such an easy place to play on people's anxieties.
"Places like bulletin boards that easily allow a sense of association to develop also permit the simple development of a feeling that you're going to be forgotten," she says.
"If you don't agree with posts that everybody else in the online community has written, it sparks anxiety that you may be about to be cut out of the group.
Bullies can pick up on that anxiety and exploit it by making nasty, personal posts that in turn make the anxiety even deeper."
Mobile phone expert K says there's a simple way for kids to handle online bullying.
"Don't pay too much attention to it.
Most of the time the online bullies are only posting nasty messages because they want the reaction of the person they've written about," he says.
"The more you react or respond to nasty posts, the more intense the posts are going to become and the more depressed that's going to make you.
The best way to deal with this stuff is just to ignore it."
Ignoring the problem may not be easy for the kids being slandered, but at least one group of people has apparently chosen to act on that advice.
"There's not a school teacher in the country who specializes in information technology education," Net crime expert Fujita tells Weekly Playboy.
"IT in schools is being taught by teachers who know a bit about computers, but the vast majority of teachers don't know anything about computers and are petrified of the day they're ordered to teach information technology classes."
(By Ryann Connell)
May 17, 2007