KANAGAWA (TR) – Police officers have determined that a boy who gave more than one million yen to classmates who bullied him over his evacuation from the Fukushima Prefecture nuclear disaster of 2011 was not blackmailed because he handed the money over on his own accord, a source said on Saturday.
The 13-year-old elementary school student, who voluntarily evacuated with his parents to Yokohama, was handing bullies at his new school money to play at arcades and buy food and drinks after being told, “You probably have compensation money” — a reference to evacuees who receive government financial support. The bullies referred to him as a “germ,” TV Asahi reports (Nov. 19).
The boy’s parents consulted with Kanagawa Prefectural Police about the bullying, but were told by officers their boy wasn’t being blackmailed because he handed them money of his own accord, a police source said.
Police said officers reported the money exchanging hands to school officials, who failed to act on the information. Police added that there was “no problem with our response, and the case was handled appropriately.”
Education officials flooded by angry calls
The principal of the boy’s school told the Mainichi Shimbun on Saturday that the bullying incident “makes his heart hurt very much,” but declined further comment when asked about the details of the school’s response.
The city’s board of education plans to investigate the school’s handling of the case in light of some 180 phone calls criticizing how the city’s education officials and the school handled the case.
The complaints included such comments as “it makes me cry how sorry I feel for the victim” and “the handling by the school and the board of education is bad,” board of education officials said.
A parent of one of the boy’s classmates said that parents and neighborhood associations “contacted the school and the city’s board of education when rumors were abound that the boy stopped coming to school, but they didn’t get in touch. Disappointing.”
Board of education: Can’t intervene
A representative told the Asahi Shimbun that the boy’s parents realized their savings for living expenses were missing at home and informed police his classmates were asking him for money in July 2014.
A police investigation found that the boy had covered expenses to play at arcades and buy food and drinks for his classmates a total of 10 times, giving between 50,000 yen and 100,000 yen each time, for a total of around 1.5 million yen in cash.
The boy also bought air guns for his classmates, police said.
School officials, told by police of the incident in November, decided that the incident did not count as “serious” under the government’s Anti-Bullying Measures Promotion Law.
The anti-bullying law urges schools to treat as “serious” cases where students stop attending school and suffer such grievances as financial loses and have a third-party committee open an investigation.
After the parents received a report from police, they also consulted the city’s board of education, which said they could “give advice, but we can’t intervene.”
The boy’s parents requested the board of education to launch an investigation in December 2015. A third-party panel was established to examine the case in January this year.