Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Annotated Links #12: Bully for Japan

1. Ruble, Cynthia. "Parent-child relationship key to solving bullying problem in Japan." The Japan Daily Press 30 July 2012. Web. 31 July 2012.

This is a first person, opinion-based piece written as part anecdote and part observation. It identifies two major issues in Japanese culture that may make bullying ubiquitous: a willingness to accept hardships as part of life rather than try to improve them (related to the Japanese concept of "gaman"); and the unwillingness amongst adults to stand up against bullying for social reasons.

This article is of interest because it offers a cross-cultural look at bullying, and at some of the universals (unwillingness to defend oneself, fatalism) that may perpetuate bullying.

2. Gale, Bruce. "Tackling the bullying culture in Japan's schools." The Straits Times [found on Asia News Network] 18 July 2012. Web. 31 July 2012.

Gale analyzes bullying in Japan based on Herman Smith's The Myth of Japanese Homogeneity. Specifically, Gale notes and includes analysis based on the three characteristics Smith writes of: "intense competition for scarce educational advantages;" "that girls are rarely victims;" and "that the victims are usually transfer students who do not yet have friends to protect them." Gale also makes an interesting connection between bullying, gang violence, and heterogenous/multicultural societies, and another between bullying and the art style found in many manga. The article is written in a straightforward, easy to read style.

This article is of interest because of its analyses and because it offers a good sociological overview of the problem of bullying in Japan.

3. Nelson, Christopher. "To cut down on bullying, transform school culture." MPR News 23 July 2012. Web. 31 July 2012.

A first person opinion piece based on Nelson's experiences as a student and educator. Nelson writes that it's important to tell bullies that bullying isn't what's done, and to get them to feel included after being reprimanded, not ostracised. He states that the best solution is to have a strong, school-wide sense of where the school is going and what's important to it, yet he notes that there is no one formula for this sense and its enactment that can be universally applied. The article includes a brief summary of Nelson's experience and credentials.

Though it isn't about bullying in Japan, this article is included because it offers an interesting counterpoint to the otherwise ignored sense of school spirit found in Japanese schools that may also underlie bullying new/transfer students.

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Tomorrow's editorial will be about the increasing grittiness of popular fantasy, and this Friday check the blog for a search for the good in the infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space. Plan 9 currently sits at a 66% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes, but because of a special request, and the movie's reputation, I'm going to relax my usual 50% cut off point.

And, of course, don't forget to check out "Annotated Links #13" on Thursday!

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