Tuesday, 22 August 2006

The Lost Children

Out of the 45 first grade students we have at Konoura Jr. High, only 40 can be said to come to school on a regular basis. The other five children, for one reason or another, feel that they cannot face the pressures of Jr. High life. I don't quite understand what happened. All the students attended Elementary fine. One of the girls was in the English club there, and I remember her as an insanely energetic, confident girl who was always laughing. Now she is shy and introverted. What is more scary is that the change occured over the two weeks between the end of Elementary and Jr. High.

Another of the boys was also a confident young fellow at Elementary. He came to the Jr. High every day for the first month of term and then all of a sudden he just disappeared. On the few days he does come to school he looks absolutely terrified, as if he is ready to burst into tears at any moment.

Another student had a physical disability last year which held him back for a while. He is fine now, but he is emotionally in an even worse state than the other lost children. If his mother drops him off at school he refuses to enter the building and then runs back home.

Why is this happening? Is it the stress? I know that Japanese kids are under more pressure than NZ kids are. But apart from the boy who dissappeared after one month of Jr. High, the kids were not even at school enough to find out just how much stress they would personally be under. There is something else going on with them, and it scares me sometimes.

I was watching the news the other day, and there was a segment about these lost children. Apparently this year there are 120,000 Elementary and Jr. High kids in Japan who refuse to go to school. 120,000? Sure Japan has a lot of people, but that is what, 3 or 4% of all school children? More? That's insane! Apparently these children are studying through correspondence courses, but why should they have to?

I personally think that the lack of proper counselling and mental health awareness in Japan may be a major cause of this problem.

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On a lighter note today I ate a half-sponge-half-cheesecake, with chopsticks. Because, you know, I am Japanese.

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