Parents Furious as Teacher Marks Suicide Note with “You can do it!” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Parents Furious as Teacher Marks Suicide Note with “You can do it!”

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A’s Note Describing Struggles. Homeroom Teacher Wrote “You Can Do It” in English (Provided by the lawyer representing A’s family)

“Due to the prolonged failure to acknowledge the existence of bullying, our daughter has suffered greatly. Even now, she is unable to attend school as usual due to symptoms such as swollen feet. We also feel the need for a fundamental improvement in the organizational culture of the school and the Nara City Board of Education. Therefore, we have reluctantly decided to file a lawsuit seeking national compensation.”

The parents of A, an 11-year-old girl attending an elementary school in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, who suffered from bullying, provided this comment to “FRIDAY Digital.”

In June 2022, A, who was troubled by bullying, made a comment hinting at suicide in her self-study notebook (an exchange notebook with teachers). However, her female homeroom teacher marked it with a circle and wrote “You can do it!!” in English. Feeling distrustful of the subsequent actions taken by the school and others, the parents filed a lawsuit against the city on February 27th, seeking approximately 2.5 million yen in compensation. This comment was made by their lawyer, Kazufumi Mihashi.

“In the report issued in November last year, many issues were pointed out, and as the representative of the children affected, I highlighted various improvements that needed to be made.

However, nearly three months have passed since then, and while there has been some apology, no disciplinary action has been taken against the relevant staff, and there has been no effort to clarify responsibility. Moreover, the problematic Nara City Bullying Prevention Basic Policy has not been revised and has been left unaddressed. It seems that the Nara City Board of Education lacks the intention to improve its organizational culture and is simply waiting for the situation to cool down.”

In its February 2-9 issue this year, “FRIDAY” extensively covered the recent controversy that seemed to trample on A’s feelings. We would like to revisit some of the unbelievable actions and behaviors of the teacher and the school, as well as the background of the trouble. (Some content has been modified.)

Just by what has been uncovered, there have been 11 cases of bullying.

“The meaning behind putting a smiley face on what my daughter wrote when she was distressed is incomprehensible to me. The phrase ‘You can do it!!’ written there means ‘You can do it.’ The moment I saw the note, I was filled with anger.”

These are the words of the parents of A, a fifth-grade girl attending an elementary school in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, who suffered from bullying at school.

A did not receive appropriate support from the school, so she wrote in her self-study notebook, “It’s hopeless,” and “I wish I were dead.” Her female homeroom teacher then marked it with a smiley face and wrote, “You can do it!!” (as shown in the above photo). This incident became a major issue when the Nara City Board of Education released an investigation report in November last year.

The roots of the issue trace back to 2021 when A, then in third grade, started experiencing bullying from a classmate, B.

“As my daughter started to report ‘such things happening from B-kun’ the number of incidents increased.”

The bullying A received from B-kun amounted to 11 incidents as revealed by the investigation. It included physical violence such as twisting and pushing, poking with a pencil on the back, as well as verbal abuse like “Remember this.” In such circumstances, an incident occurred in February 2022 when A’s foot was kicked.

“When my daughter went to the back of the classroom to pick up her backpack, B-kun kicked her right foot. The shin that was kicked turned blue and bruised, so we got a diagnosis from the hospital. What’s terrible is the school’s response.

Even though there were witnesses, when we asked the principal to investigate, they said, ‘B-kun denies kicking. The school is not the police,’ and they were evasive. We had no choice but to file a report with the Nara Nishi Police Station, and B-kun’s bullying was recognized. The police informed the child consultation center.”

However, B-kun’s attitude remained unchanged, and the school did not recognize the bullying. It was shortly after A-san started saying, “I don’t want to go to school,” that the flower mark appeared in her self-study notebook.

“Female teacher C, the homeroom teacher, was strict in her guidance and sometimes yelled at my daughter. With the B-kun incident on top of that, in June of that year, my daughter wrote in her self-study notebook, ‘I wish I were dead.’ Teacher C put a flower mark on that note and wrote in English, ‘You can do it.’

Teacher C explained to the school that she wrote it because ‘A-san asked me to.’ However, my daughter never asked for such a thing. Even if she did, I can’t imagine it being appropriate (Teacher C went on sick leave before the start of the second term due to health reasons).”


The principal said, “No comment.”

The school’s ruthless response continued.

“I asked the principal about the bullying towards my daughter and got a no comment in return. Feeling like there was no progress, I sought legal help. Finally, in November, the school recognized the bullying as a serious situation. However, there’s still been no formal apology from the school.

My daughter’s appetite has decreased, and she started waking up in the middle of the night. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of this, she had to miss school for almost two months starting in January 2023. We want the school to correct its mishandling. Without that, my daughter, who is now in fifth grade, still struggles with unstable symptoms and can’t attend school with peace of mind.”


The elementary school and the Nara City Board of Education, in response to inquiries from “FRIDAY,” stated, “We take seriously the fact that it has resulted in significant mental anguish for the child and the parents who were bullied, and we will review the school organization to prevent bullying and ensure it is not overlooked.”

Kazufumi Mitsuhashi, a lawyer who represented Mr. A in the bullying case, points out, 

“At the time when Mr. A was continuously bullied, the school did not acknowledge the bullying or recognize him as a victimized child. Despite the clear need for support due to the psychological damage, the school’s response was malicious. Many teachers and education administrators at the scene are unaware of the content of laws and policies regarding bullying prevention, so they are unable to appropriately handle troubles that occur in educational settings.”

It’s only natural for the parents to be furious at the school’s attitude that tramples on their child’s heart.

Parents express their anger at the school in front of a photo of the bruises Mr. A sustained from bullying.
Mr. A’s diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. She still has flashbacks to the bullying she was subjected to.
  • Reporting and writing Masayoshi Katayama (Journalist)

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