The education ministry plans to dispatch about 50 former teachers and former police officers to three prefectures devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake to help prevent an increase of juvenile delinquency there.
Starting next school year, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will send the officials–who were mainly teachers in charge of student counseling and police officers in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures–to the prefectures’ local education offices.
They will conduct student counseling mainly for middle schools and also attend after-school activities to watch and take care of students.
According to the Kobe city government, in the wake of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, shoplifting cases by primary school students rose 22 percent from the average of the preceding three years. Shoplifting by middle school students increased 11.6 percent.
The number of students who exhibited problematic behavior, such as riding motorcycles without a license, more than doubled after the quake.
Research by the Hyogo prefectural board of education also showed that the number of students who needed special educational consideration increased after the quake. It began decreasing in the 1999 school year.
The prefectural board judged that children and students suffered from stress because they lived in temporary housing units, repeatedly moved to other places and experienced drastic changes in their living circumstances.
In the disaster-hit areas and nearby areas, about five officials will be sent to each local education office of prefectural boards of education, or offices of municipal boards of education.
They also will visit middle schools in the prefectures. About 50 will be sent to a total of 15 offices in the three prefectures.
They will collaborate with teachers in charge of student counseling at each school and also help students hold discussions and other kinds of group activities.
The officials will organize after-school activities to communicate with students to prevent them from being isolated or developing problematic behavior.
Local authorities will select the 50 officials and decide on details of the activities in accordance with the situation of each school.
The ministry plans to assess whether the measure is effective and make the project a model case for future systems to prevent juvenile delinquency in the wake of disasters.
According to the Iwate prefectural police, the number of minors who committed crimes in 2011 in the prefecture was 427, down 96 from the previous year.
Though the number of minors who committed shoplifting rose by nine from the previous year to 225, the number of thefts of bicycles and motorcycles fell.
In Fukushima Prefecture, the number of minors who committed crimes as of the end of November last year was 1,042, down 385 from the corresponding period in the previous year.
An official of the Fukushima prefectural police’s juvenile section said, “It was partly because minors were not in situations in which they could be delinquent just after the disaster.”
(Feb. 24, 2012)