I’m an ALT who works in a public elementary school. I think there’s a student in one of the classes who is getting abused at home. He comes to school with a black eye, a swollen lip or bruises on his arms. I asked him a couple times what happened and he just says “…my dad.” I have brought this to the Japanese teachers, but they don’t do anything about it! They told me that what happens at home is none of our business. That’s really hard for me to understand! I don’t get it, it’s so frustrating! What can a “foreigner” like me do to help this kid??
—Savior or Nosey Parker
We passed your query on to TELL and here’s what they had to say:
“Suspecting that a child may be experiencing abuse at home can leave one feeling worried and stressed. The feeling of helplessness you are experiencing is understandable considering your co-workers appear to either not want to or are unsure of how to handle this situation. Your stress may be compounded by the fact that as a non-Japanese person here, the laws and available resources for this student might be unknown or inaccessible to you because of the language barrier.
It might help you to know that there is a child protection system in Japan that you can contact with your concerns. The quick version of how it works is that anyone (even the child himself) is able to report suspicions of child abuse—anonymously if they wish. The child must be under the age of 18. Key information includes the name, age and gender of the child, and the address where he or she lives; dates of abuse; other siblings living in the home; and photos if necessary. Reporting may be done via the national Child Guidance Hotline (0570-064-000), or by fax, letter or a direct visit to a Child Guidance Center or welfare office. Presently the reporting can only be done in Japanese.
TELL Counseling Service (TCS) has a Children Protection Program in which specialists are able to speak with parents, schools, the child or the concerned person in English or Japanese about the abuse and the steps that can be taken. TCS can be reached at 03-4550-1146 (English) and 03-4550-1147 (Japanese).
If you need more information about a Child Guidance Center in your area you can call the TELL Lifeline and speak with a phone counselor who can help you find that information. While you are making your decision about what to do, remember that our phone counselors are here seven days a week to listen to all your concerns, frustrations and worries without judgment.”
Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year. or visit their website at www.telljp.com.
Metropolis would also like to notify you of Childline, a counseling service kids can call themselves in Japanese at 0120-99-7777. www.childline.or.jp
If you want to “Ask Metropolis Anything” about life in Tokyo, send your questions to email@example.com and we’ll find the most appropriate people to answer your queries.