Thursday, May 29, 2008

More school differences

In an earlier post I wrote about some of the differences between a USA high school and a Japanese high school. That was not the only differences. I now feel like expanding upon the other post. This time I'm going to talk about school rules, bullying in schools, and corporal punishment.

Some Japanese high schools have over 300 school rules and some schools are very strict in enforcing them. Here are some examples of real school rules:

1. If a girl and a boy are talking, there should be at least one other person present, and everyone should stand at least three feet apart.
2. Upon seeing a teacher or visitor in the hallways greet them with a bow.
3. Underwear must be white.
4. Skirts have to be knee length
5. Hair can not be colored, can not be longer than a designated length
6. a few accessories are allowed but they must be solid colors.
7. Uniforms must be worn outside even during holidays.
8. Students will be home before 9 pm
9. Students will not have part time jobs
10. Students will arrive on time.
11. Do not go to video games arcades and karaoke boxes even if you're with your parents
12. Don't stay at another person's house, except your family
13. If you want to go to the movies, watch the movies that the school has permitted.

I'm not saying these types of punishments listed shortly are for every school (or are technically legal) but occasionally these things happen and some times when it gets particularly bad it will make the news. Some schools will have a guy teacher check girls underwear to see if they are white. They will take a ruler to measure the length of hair/skirt and in the case of hair being to long the teacher may cut it. Quite a few schools require that you have your hair cut by the school barber. Types of corporal punishment includes holding buckets in the hallway full of water (rarely used nowadays), hitting the students (example in Azumanga Doiah the teacher hits the students in the head for failing to do the homework), and making the students run laps. Hitting is so common that students coming home bruised is not uncommon and there have been cases where the teachers have gone too far and hospitalized students. If your late to school the school gates will be closed forcing you to miss classes.

These are not new problems. These things have been happening for quite a while and the Japanese education department is trying to change things. The reason that these problems exist though is how Japanese culture is. The Japanese are a homogeneous society not a individualistic society like the US. The students parents and the students put up with these things because they view the person being punished at fault not the person who is doing the punishment. They figure what is the problem they wouldn't be punished if they just followed the rules. People tend to consider that being similar to each other is a virtue. If your different or not conforming your a deviant.

In addition to corporal punishment bullying in schools is a very serious problem in Japan and has been making the news quite frequently. Though bullying is a problem every where. The person that in the US would be considered the victim in Japan is not seen as a victim they are seen as a deviant. Anyone who is different will get bullied for not conforming. Bullying is not punished as much as it should. For example, if a group of students beat up and rob a student it's not a criminal offense. While schools are strict on rules, the police are lenient on children. People committing suicide from being bullied is depressingly common in Japan. It is easy to find stories of children committing suicide because of bullies. Here is one from the BBC:
A more current one dated two days ago can be found in the Washington Post
Some Japanese terms
kosoku - school rules
Ijime - school bullying
tohatsu rules - rules covering hair
fukuso rules - rules covering clothing
toko-jikan rules -rules covering punctuality
Mochimono rules - rules covering personal belongings
katei seikatsu rules - rules covering home life
yasumi-chu no sugoshikata - rules covering behavior while on vacation
kogai de no sugoshikata - rules covering off campus behavior
arubaito -rules covering part time work

These things are seen in the Ranma manga (though usually exagerated), though some were lost in translation. Ranma is considered a deviant enough to bring in Miss Hinako because he doesn't conform. What is worse than him not conforming, from a Japanese point of view, is that he causes the people around him to also not conform. The principal tries to enforce rules covering hair in a way that would really happen in real life - teacher cutting the hair. He tries to make Ranma bow since Ranma should bow. They try and make Ranma wear a uniform since school rules say he has to. The principal tries to make Ranma fail to get to school on time. Ranma saves Gosunkugi from being robbed. etc. The principal and Miss Hinako could expel Ranma but that is not what they want. They want Ranma to conform like everyone else and stop causing other people to buck the system like Ranma does. Expelling Ranma would be a defeat and show that they really can't control the students. Ranma is actually making school life easier for students giving the teachers a target , letting them get away with more than they normally would because he is, won't let the teachers abuse their power and actively puts a stop to bullying several times in the manga.

For further reading on bullying in schools more detailed then mine and very good:

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