September 05, 2007

Pressure, Boredom, Fear Prompt ‘Refusers’

“Educators are wary about acknowledging this growing phenomenon”... “When school refusers turn 15, principals normally award them graduation certificates regardless of whether they complete their studies. And once children have fallen off the traditional education path, they are left to navigate new territory in the job world”... “That's if they can work at all. Education professor Katsuyuki Hiroki said many refusers become reclusive as adults and can't leave their bedrooms. Hiroki said 1 million adults suffer from this affliction...”

Excerpts from an article By Jessi Hempel writing from Japan for the San Jose Mercury News

Japanese Refusers a Major Issue- by Bruce

A couple of months ago, unexpectedly, an office worker asked me to lunch at her cafeteria. I hardly knew this person-- a foreign national to whom I had previously only given a small pamphlet Somebody Loves You in her own language-- yet soon she was pouring out her heart about her personal life and difficulties.

She first, confidently, told of her many accomplishments at work and of her plans for the future. She then explained that some areas of her personal life had become dysfunctional-- and some of her dissatisfactions and disappointments.

Finally, her greatest frustration-- Her teenage son had become alienated at school and had refused to return. An apparently bright boy, he'd become frustrated, sullen-- hardly leaving his room and, when he did, arguing with his mother.

'What should I do? He's a good boy, smart, but he refuses to try to go back to school.'

After acknowledging how difficult it can be to communicate with teenagers, I sympathized with her son who, like many thousands of other Japanese students, have dropped out due to the school and social pressures.

I asked about her son's interests and abilities, then suggested she give him love, acceptance and encouragement to excel-- perhaps in some area in which he feels capable-- offering a way to gain confidence in himself and for his future. I encouraged her to relax more, to not try so hard-- to make him feel accepted.

Later, I visited again to take some Power Point Presentations on love, forgiveness, bitterness, life's trials and others. These were what she was most excited about on my most recent visit.

'Those pictures and words have helped me so much', she said happily, 'And my son-- I encouraged him and he's responded so much. He apologized for how he's been talking to me and things are going so much better now. May we go to your home to meet your family?'

Since this encouraging development, I feel more motivated than ever to support efforts that have been proposed in our mission community to develop and present material-- drama and songs, for example-- for the Japanese youth that will address common school problems-- like bullying-- and to develop positive attitudes like acceptance and concern for the weak and those in need-- needed counter balances in a world often focused on personal success and measured by personal power and possessions.

Naomi will be going to Tokyo again this month on just such a creative project. They will have several show and also hope to record some original song in Japanese. Please pray for this-- Thanks!

That's Naomi with our 'in-house' drummer and expectant daddy, Tomo-- well, actually it's his wife, Mandy, who is due to have their first next month

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