Pupil insights into school bullying : a cross-national perspective between Japan and England
The research presented in this thesis focused on cross-national comparisons of
secondary school pupils' understanding of and attitudes towards school bullying / ijime.
In the first study, interviews with 121 12-15-year-old Japanese and English secondary
school children were conducted to evaluate the depth and diversity of children's
understanding of the nature of bullying / ijime. Attitudes towards bullying / ijime, and to
school-based interventions were also examined. In the second study, a survey of 1,967
Japanese and English secondary school children was conducted to evaluate their
understanding of different forms of bullying / ijime behaviour, and their friendship
The interviews revealed that compared to bullying in U.K, ijime in Japan was seen as
more weighted towards verbal and indirect (rather than physical) aggression, that causes
victims more often psychological suffering, and is more characteristic of within-grade
relationships rather than an older pupil bullying a younger one. As useful coping
strategies for the victim, while English pupils consider indirect actions such as 'seeking
help from others' to be very useful, more direct actions such as 'fighting back' and
'telling bullies to stop it' are considered more useful by Japanese pupils. The majority of
pupils in England had very positive views of school based intervention and teachers'
and parents' involvement to tackle the problem, whereas considerable number of pupils
in Japan had reluctant and negative attitudes to it.
The survey revealed findings consistent with the first study regarding pupils'
understanding of bullying / ijime behaviour. It also found that compared to English
pupils, who form their friendships equally with pupils in different year groups as well as
those in the same year group, Japanese pupils form friendships based, to a large extent,
on the class they belong to. This difference of friendship formation seems partly to stem
from the different education systems in England and Japan, which in tum, influence
pupil's perceptions and understanding of the nature of bullying / ijime.