Posts Tagged: bullying


Indistinguishable From Magic: Shaming, Social Media, and the Impact of Online Power


Yesterday I posted an op-ed at Wired called “Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Someone on Social Media,” about considering the power of your online voice before you shame or call someone out online. One of the examples I used was Adria Richards, a prominent tech developer who…

(click the title above to read Laura’s complete post)

I’m not a very big fish in the Internet realm. I’m also a straight white male, which means my hate mail is typically limited to “you are a bad writer” and that’s that. So I find value in things like Public Shaming because it offers me perspective on how bad things can get online.

Would I attempt to “shame” someone who tried to hurt or threaten me? I…I don’t know. The temptation would be strong. Perhaps I’d try to make light of it?

I recall last year’s incident where the “Gaijin Gulag” guy wrote an impossibly long blog post calling out people who had criticized him online. Even though I had never directly contacted him, I had tweeted about his situation and left comments on blog posts discussing his tale of being deported. This was enough to make his shit list, so he included me in his diatribe.

I only merited a paragraph or so in his rant, and in the grand scheme of things it was petty. But I responded because I didn’t appreciate the way he labeled me a bully when all I did was question his story, one which grew increasingly dubious as detailed emerged.

Still, I look back on that and similar mass-outrage incidents and I wonder if I, by calling him out as others did online, became a bully simply because we outnumbered him. He was, by all accounts, a lone nut; a guy who spat at anyone who dared to engage him on any level. It became a spectacle. I wondered what he was going to say or do next. I couldn’t WAIT to point and laugh at him.

That’s not good.

Do I owe him an apology? Probably not, he was (and perhaps still is, just not on Twitter) an irascible jerk to everyone and anyone. If he were to show an inkling of remorse I’d consider it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t reflect on my behavior and consider how to handle the next (inevitable?) confrontation.

The Internet is a funny place. It allows us to instantly contact huge crowds of faceless people. I’ve been blogging for nine years, Tweeting for five, Tumbling for three. Beyond the audience that I know, there are thousands who see my words reblogged or retweeted. In those instances, strangers will see my face and name next to words I’ve written and they will use that information to form an opinion about me.

Do I want that opinion to be based on an insult of another person?

Source: laurahudson
Photo Set





yesterday, a facebook page was created titled “The Sluts Of Lorain County" in order to belittle women and teenage girls of Lorain County, Ohio. within less than 24 hours this page has gained nearly 4,000 likes and the number is growing. these pictures are being posted without these girls’ consent, and many people are identifying these girls in the comment sections by tagging them. some of these girls are as young as freshman in high school. this is both disgusting and dangerous. many of the pictures posted are just girls in halloween costumes, or in bikinis at the beach. like, excuse a girl for not wearing her fucking sweatsuit to the beach. not only is this slut-shaming and sexist, but it’s also a large form of cyber-bullying and harassment. are there any guys’ pictures posted on this page? of course not. when one woman reported the page, Facebook responded:

"Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the page you reported for harassment and found it doesn’t violate our community standard on bullying and harassment."

okay, Facebook. please explain to me what the fuck your “community standard on bullying and harassment” is then. maybe you should rethink and rewrite your standards, because i’m certain that posting pictures of people without their consent in order to accuse them of being promiscuous is, in fact, both bullying and harassment.

so please, SIGNAL BOOST AND REPORT. hell, contact Facebook directly and help them to rethink their standards. it’s fucking bullshit the way someone is treated for dressing how they want (especially when it’s for an occasion i.e. homecoming, halloween, swimming, etc.) and no one should have to be subject to slut shaming and bullying.

what the fuck?

Yet more evidence that Facebook’s “we’ll TOTALLY look into these concerns now that sponsors are leaving!” statement was total bullshit.

I tried reporting it as “sexually explicit” because calling underage girls sluts sounds sexual to me. The report was denied (within seconds) because the images do not contain “nudity of pornography” which isn’t the button I clicked.

Boo, Facebook.

Source: torisgorawr

A teen’s suicide in Osaka at the end of 2012 is now making headlines across Japan because once again, a child was being physically abused and felt he had no choice but to take his own life.

The catch? The bully wasn’t a student, it was his basketball coach.

Details continue to emerge about this case, but the boy was a captain of the team and felt responsible for everyone’s success - or failure. Judging by how often this boy was allegedly smacked in the face, it seems the coach likewise held him responsible for the team’s efforts.

The parents confronted the coach at the boy’s wake (!) and he admitted that he had “physically punished” (the Japanese term 体罰 taibatsu is quite the buzzword now) the boy. Expect a flurry of stories now about other whether or not the coach had done this in the past, what defines taibatsu, and how often other teachers may have used such methods.

For me, as a teacher and a father, I’m horrified by the whole situation. I’ve gotten used to the more hands-on teacher-student relationship in Japan, where it’s not seen as outrageous to slap a child’s head when they’re acting out. Comedians do this constantly, it’s seen as funny. But this was a case where the boy was bruised and bleeding from whatever the coach did to him.

If there is an upside, it’s that unlike the situation in Otsu, everyone is rushing forward to address the problem and find a solution. Just as bullying is increasingly being scrutinized, so should teacher conduct. No more cover ups. No more dead kids.

One last thought: not to victim blame here, but what steps does Japan take to prevent teen suicide? I see plenty of “no bullying” posters and “no drugs” posters around my schools, but I’ve never seen a “don’t kill yourself” poster. I wonder why not.


Four middle schoolers in Nara have been arrested after they forced two boys in their class to strip naked, photographed them in the nude, and then sent the pictures out to other students.

The incident took place over the summer. When parents found out about it (by seeing the pictures) and went to the school board looking for answers, they were told by a board of education official: “We cannot confirm whether or not this was bullying.”

He’s right, of course. It’s been decades but I’ll never forget all those childhood games of “forcibly strip and humiliate my peers” I used to play when I was their age. What fun we all had!

Thankfully the police responded despite the school’s inaction. It would seem that the increased public pressure on schools to keep an eye out for bullying (which, lest anyone forget, is to prevent children from killing themselves) hasn’t yet cracked the shell of some bureaucrats who’d rather keep everything quiet than acknowledge their students’ behavior is less than exemplary.

Under Japan’s School Education Law, local education boards can issue suspension orders to the guardians of students who repeatedly use violence at school.
However, no such suspensions were given in Tokyo in the five years through March 2011, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

Looks like another classic case of Japan passing a law and sitting back while no one enforces it. See also: discrimination, child pornography, etc etc.

source: Daily Yomiuri


My mouth is agape and my fists are clenched with rage at some news items circulating Japan this week.

As you may recall, a tragic case of bullying left unchecked has put the issue of abuse in the spotlight as of late. Schools and police are responding to the concerns of the public and stepping up to fight the problem. Others choose to ignore it or, worse, defend the abusers from harm. Seriously.

A high school student in Sendai complained to his teachers that he was being bullied. Seeking an apology, he said classmates forced him to burn his own arm with a cigarette. The school agreed to hold a meeting between the boy and his attackers, but after it was over the student was expelled because he “showed off the burns to other students and made them anxious.” I’ve heard of blaming the victim before but this is insane.

Fortunately, the local police were more receptive when he showed them his arm. Now that they’ve accepted his report and have begun asking questions, suddenly the school says they will re-investigate the matter.

Unfortunately, not every victim is so lucky. A middle-schooler in Saitama went to the police four or five times over the past year to report being abused at school, alleging that his homeroom teacher knew what was happening. The cops turned him down.

This past January, a classmate bashed the boy’s head against concrete, knocking him unconscious and sending him to the hospital. Doctors say he had a broken rib (or ribs). The boy again went to the police and they said, quote, “Please forget this happened” and “Even if we accept your report, the accused is 12 so nothing will come of this.” The victim has since changed schools while his parents explore their legal options.

And in case you needed a reminder of how women’s rights are overlooked in Japan, we have this case of a Fukushima woman who attempted to file domestic abuse charges against her husband only to be dismissed by the police. Despite telling police that her husband “handcuffed her, choked her neck, and covered her mouth several times” the police shrugged their shoulders and said “There is no law that tries someone for causing inner (psychological) trauma.”

"You need to tolerate it because you are a married couple" said a heartless, misogynistic monster who had assumed human form and currently works as a police officer.

As if that weren’t enough, somehow word of the woman’s attempts to notify the police got back to her husband who, and this is shocking, objects to his wife’s repeated criminal complaints. Luckily the woman has already moved out and is filing for divorce, so presumably she is out of immediate danger. No word on where her kids are though.

Yet hope remains in all of these cases, because once a story makes it into the paper it becomes an embarrassment to the organizations involved, often prompting corrective action.

Case in point: I was repulsed when I heard last month of a female police officer in Yokohama who was ordered to strip by four male officers. She complained, they admitted to their behavior but no charges were filed because there was “no case.” Since that story broke, the police were flooded with angry calls and, whaddya know, they are now reconsidering their decision.

The Japanese word of the day is gaiatsu, (外圧) meaning “external pressure.” If anything like this ever happens to me, my wife, or our kids, I’m speed-dialing every media source I can. And I won’t stop until everyone who was wrong resigns, gets fired or goes to jail. Fuck any bureaucrat who turns away a victim.


In the wake of the Otsu bullying case, Japanese school districts are constantly in the news now with tales of students being abused. Take this one:

The five are suspected of using a cigarette lighter to set fire to the victim’s hair at a local public park on May 20 this year — an incident one of the accused apparently filmed with his mobile phone — and punching him in the face and breaking his nose on May 28. According to police, the victim has also said he had been “giving the boys several thousand yen a month” since his first year of junior high school.

Once again we have tales of reprehensible, criminal behavior that somehow takes place in a world where no one sees anything. Note that he gets caught stealing under order from the bullies, who later break his nose for talking to the police. How did his conversation with police not immediately get his attackers locked up?

Regardless, this case has a happy ending of sorts. A teacher took notice of the victim’s wounds and informed the principal. Now the five (FIVE, jesus) bullies are under arrest.

I believe the Otsu case is the only reason this boy is still alive. It took a national media circus for Japanese schoolteachers to wake up and realize maybe, MAYBE, students who inflict pain and misery on other students should be reprimanded. I don’t know why that had to happen first, but it happened. Let’s embrace it and move forward, with the goal of next time standing up to bullies before the police need to be called in.

PS: in case you thought the Otsu situation had cleared up, no. The city is still mishandling their response at every possible juncture.


Fair warning: this story might ruin your day.

There’s been a lot of talk in the Japanese media this week about a 13-year-old boy who killed himself last fall. Why is this tragically-not-that-uncommon incident making headlines now? Because only now are the circumstances surrounding his death coming to light. And it is infuriating.

As you can already guess, he was bullied. A lot. But the extent of the bullying this kid went through was truly on another level of cruelty. There were beatings and humiliation. He was told to eat (or at least put in his mouth) wasps and even a dead bird. His money was stolen. And in the most frightening thing I’ve ever read, he was forced to “practice” killing himself. Everyday.

These kids did everything short of throwing the kid off the roof themselves.

But wait, it gets worse. All of the above crimes were done in full view of other students and even teachers. They are being made public now as part of a lawsuit filed by the boy’s parents against the bullies, the bullies’ parents, and the city itself. At the time of his death, the school district claimed “We cannot determine that he committed suicide because of the bullying.” But it turns out they absolutely knew about all the bullying because they conducted a survey and students reported witnessing the abuse. They even said teachers pretended not to notice (“見て見ぬふり” is the excerpt been shown on TV).

Hang on, I’m not done yet. The boy’s father tried to report these crimes to the police three times and was turned down because “it is difficult to investigate once the victim is dead” (“被害者本人が亡くなっており、非常に難しい”). Casting aside what “difficult” means in Japanese polite speech, you’re the fucking police. If you can’t investigate a death, you should lock your front door and send everyone home.

The boy’s parents are seeking 77.2 million yen in damages (about $966, 235), a shockingly paltry sum considering a boy is dead. However, this is obviously not about money. It’s a desperate attempt to make every single person who failed to save this boy’s life feel shame and guilt. Someone has to be held responsible for all this.

I’ve always been impressed by how readily Japanese people apologize when they screw up. Even high-ranking executives have been known to deeply bow at press conferences and admit they failed to do something or other. But after living here a few years, those apologies carry less and less weight. When things go wrong consistently and no visible attempt is made to improve, saying “I’m sorry” after every mistake doesn’t mean anything.

Bullying in Japan isn’t going away because no one wants it to go away. Japanese school districts want to print posters and put on a show after every dead kid, but no one wants to actually stop the bullies. That’s difficult.

If I sound overly flustered or dramatic about all this, there are two reasons. One, I had a rough time when I was in school. It was rarely physical, nothing worth making a fuss about, but I grew up feeling like I was a weirdo and so I acted accordingly. People treated me like garbage and it drove me to actually believe it. I don’t want my children to go through that.

And yes, I’m sensitive to tales of Japanese bullying because I’ve got kids who are biracial. They look different than the other kids around them. Even now, I see Japanese people treating my son like he’s an outsider because of his hair color and facial features. My kids will be prime bullying targets and I fear they won’t find any sympathetic ears at school. But I swear I’ll go to jail if I have to before I let a teacher or board member shrug their shoulders when I tell them my child is being abused in their school.