A student from a private integrated junior high/ high school in Tokyo filed a complaint with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police as a victim of bullying. It was later learned that the 15 year-old high school student was allegedly advised by his principal not to go to the police on threat of not being able to enter high school.
The boy and his mother claim that he was sworn to silence as a condition of his graduating from middle school. However, as the bullying continued into high school he decided to go to the police.
According to reports, ever since the beginning of junior high school the boy was the victim of physical abuse in changing rooms and restrooms. In each instance he consulted the school in accordance with their rules, but nothing changed.
As of September last year the bullying was still ongoing. However, the school felt that the repeated complaints of abuse from classmates could have a negative impact on his academic career and “such an attitude not allow him to go to the next grade.”
When the boy and his mother attended a parent/teacher conference regarding his graduation in January, the principal outlined four guidelines to protect the school such as “students must never record conversations with others inside the school” and “any issue must be resolved in the school, never report to the police without first consulting the school.”
The mother interpreted this and the school’s previous comments to mean “your boy better keep his mouth shut or he won’t continue at this school.”
A copy of these four rules was sent to the boy’s home as a reminder of their importance. The boy kept silent about further abuses including choking and hitting until graduating to high school.
But shortly into the new school year the bullying resumed. Feeling unable to go to the school faculty any more, the boy chose to break the school guidelines and report it to the police.
When interviewed by Yomiuri Newspaper, the principal had this to say:
“We did send a document to the family outlining certain guidelines we don’t want students to violate, but they were never conditions to moving up a grade. And we didn’t say ‘never talk to the police.’ Rather ‘we want the students to consult the school first’ is how the guideline is stated.”
Whether this was a simple misunderstanding by the boy’s family or the school’s faculty covering their own butts will likely never be known. Being a private school they do have the right to set their own policy, and I’m no lawyer, but if the mother’s claims are correct that rule might qualify as some kind of obstruction of justice. At the very least keeping the police out of the loop to avoid public embarrassment to a school has a way of blowing up in one’s face. Just look at Penn State.
Source: Yomiuri Online (Japanese)