The “junior high school entrance exam” continues to heat up. In 2011, 52,600 students took the entrance examination for junior high schools in the Tokyo metropolitan area, a record number for the ninth consecutive year of increase (according to the Metropolitan Area Mock Trial Center). On the other hand, there is another factor behind the examination wars that has also increased for nine consecutive years, reaching a record high. That is the number of children who have not been attending school. According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (based on the results of a 2021 survey on student guidance issues such as problematic behavior and truancy among students), 244,940 elementary and junior high school students are truant, or one out of every 20 junior high school students.
The number of junior high school students who are not attending school is one in 20. At first glance, there seems to be no relationship between these two factors. However, as someone who actually works with children in the field, I have to say that there is a connection between these two data.
Takanori Sugiura, president of the “General Incorporated Association for the Prevention of Truancy and Withdrawal from School,” says so. He is a specialist in the field, having helped more than 10,000 truants, high school dropouts, and housemates recover.
About 90% of the students who come to us for advice have taken the entrance exam for junior high school,” he says. Children who are forced by their parents to take entrance exams tend to become apathetic once they enter junior high school. When I ask them what they have worked hard for, almost all of them answer that they took the junior high school entrance exam. Many of them stop going to school as a result of burnout after the exams are over.”
According to the aforementioned statistics from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, “apathy and anxiety” are the most common reasons for non-attendance at 49.7%. Mr. Sugiura continues.
In private, integrated junior and senior high schools, called “advanced schools,” students spend their third year of high school preparing for university entrance exams, so they have to study for six years. Therefore, six years’ worth of study must be completed in the five years leading up to the second year of high school, so classes proceed at a very fast pace. In English, in particular, students are already practicing high school grammar in the third semester of their first year of junior high school. This kind of instruction tends to create what is called “dropouts. Children who are unable to keep up with the classes, combined with adolescent rebelliousness, can lead to non-attendance at school.
He says that particular attention should be paid after long vacations, such as the end of the Golden Week holidays.
In many cases, even if a child is able to attend school at the beginning of the school year, they realize during GW that their junior high school life is not what they had envisioned. If a child who has stopped attending school is left alone, he or she may develop into a shut-in. If they do not go to school, they have nothing to do, so they become immersed in video games. Then their days and nights become reversed, and they become reclusive. And in almost all of the boys who are shut-ins, domestic violence is seen, although to varying degrees.”
Mr. Sugiura consulted with Mr. A,
He said, “I felt bored at a school with strict school rules and threats that if I didn’t study, I wouldn’t be admitted to university.
He stopped going to school in May of his first year of junior high school. When her parents tried to force her to go to school, there was a struggle and her mother fell down. She also glared at his father , saying, “What are you doing, you son of a bitch?
After that, A-kun locked himself in his room with three air guns. From inside, they heard him saying, “Damn, die, I’ll kill him,” and his parents felt that he was in danger. When the parents tried to open the room, Mr. A shot at them through the door with the air gun. They couldn’t help themselves and came to Mr. Sugiura for advice.
In the case of Mr. B, who was also consulted by Mr. Sugiura, he said, “I don’t like English,
I hate English, and I hate having to take the quiz again until I pass it,” he said.
He also stopped going to school in May of his first year of junior high school. From that point on, he did not attend junior high school at all, barricaded himself in the entrance of his room, and never came out of his room. His hair and beard had grown freely, and he ate food in the refrigerator after his parents went to bed. If his parents tried to enter his room, he would get violent. By the age of high school students, they had become more powerful than their parents and could no longer compete with them. So they came to Mr. Sugiura for advice.
In other cases, fathers were beaten so severely that they suffered concussions, or they were holed up in the room with knives. When boys surpass their parents in size and physical strength, they often begin to beat their mothers. There have been cases where a boy woke his mother up in the morning and beat her to get her to go to school, but she was too sleepwalking to remember,” said Sugiura.
As an education writer, the author has covered more than 150 private schools. In the course of her work, she has consulted with many parents who have children who have stopped attending school or have withdrawn from school. The mother of C, who passed the junior high school entrance exam and was attending a well-known preparatory school, revealed, “C was cramming for the junior high school entrance exam.
C started attending cram school in his fifth year of elementary school to prepare for the junior high school entrance examination. Since it is common these days for students to start attending cram school in February of their third year of elementary school, he entered the school late, and I was impatient and nagged him a lot to study harder. In December of 6th grade, when the entrance examinations were approaching, I received a shock. I found a kitchen knife stuck in the kitchen wall. I was so scared that I could not stop crying. When C began to get into trouble, I panicked and hid all the knives in the house by wrapping them in a cloth. I will never forget that horror.”
C enrolled in an integrated junior and senior high school, but later stopped attending school. He had many friends at school, though,
“I wanted to go to school, but I couldn’t get up. I don’t know why I can’t go to school.
He said, “I want to go to school, but I can’t get up,
He blamed his mother for making him take the junior high school entrance exam.
She blamed her mother, saying, “It’s my parents’ fault for making me take the junior high school entrance exam.
C said, “Why did you make me take the junior high school entrance exam? I didn’t want to do it, but you forced me to do it. When he became furious, I sometimes thought he was going to kill me. I regretted that if I had not taken the junior high school entrance exam, this would not have happened.
The causes of their non-attendance vary, but what all three have in common is that their parents forced them to take junior high school entrance exams and that they were enrolled in a strict preparatory school that in recent years has been called an “entrance exam prison.
Furthermore, Mr. Sugiura said,
In many cases, children from families where the parents are highly educated (e.g., Tokyo University or Kyoto University), have high social status (e.g., doctors or professors), and have houses as beautiful as model rooms, often stop going to school,” he points out.
This is also true for the three mentioned above. Another common factor is that the fathers were not involved in child-rearing on a regular basis.
Even if a child becomes a truant or a shut-in, he or she can start his or her life over as much as he or she wants. Under Sugiura’s guidance, A and B recovered and graduated from a correspondence high school and became civil servants, while B graduated from a correspondence high school and university and found employment.
However, parents still want their children to be able to go to school with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. What is the key to preventing their children from becoming truants or shut-ins?
It is a matter of course, but it is important for both parents to be in close contact with their children,” says Mr. Sugiura.
It’s obvious, but parents need to be in a good relationship with their children,” says Sugiura.
Instead of praising a child because he or she passed an exam or got a good score on a test, they should value the child as he or she is. It is also important to have a regular life and to be polite. In an environment where it is okay to go to bed late because they studied late at night, or where they deserve to have everything done for them because of their studies, studying comes first in everything. Children feel that if they don’t get good grades, if they don’t get into a good school, they won’t be accepted.”
The mother of Mr. C, whom the author interviewed, also had this to say.
I tried not to talk to him about his studies at all and accepted him as he was.
After that, C. did not study for more than a year, but one day he started to study on his own and entered university.
I now believe that both myself and my child, as well as the world at large, were so focused on academic background and deviation scores that we failed to see what was really important.
Of course, the majority of children will grow up in a relaxed environment even if they take the junior high school entrance examination. The school culture and the education they receive at the school of their choice are wonderful things, and they are able to form their own personalities. On the other hand, however, parents themselves may be measuring people by their academic backgrounds and deviation scores, and may be forcing their children to take entrance examinations. We should take a closer look at the reality that 90% of truants and shut-ins take junior high school entrance exams.
Interview and text： Mika Koyama (Education Journalist) Photo (1st)： Association for the Prevention of Withdrawal from School Photo (2nd)： Mika Koyama