Can SSWs Be Savior for Distressed Children? スクールソーシャルワーカー ―学校が抱える問題の救世主となるか―


   Recently, problems that afflict schools such as bullying and truancy are often taken up for discussion in TV programs and newspapers. According to a survey on problem behaviors by pupils conducted in fiscal 2011 and published last year by Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, detected bullying cases numbered some 70,000 in elementary, junior high, high and special needs schools, with those unwilling to go to school numbering about 117,000 in primary and junior high schools across the country. A vocation draws particular attention in this situation. That is a school social worker (SSW).





 An SSW is a person with professional knowledge and skills of social welfare as well as education who attempts to help troubled children with various support means such as improving the environment in which they are placed and building networks that link the related organizations. The school social work system was born in the United States, where it has a history longer than a century. SSWs are different from school counselors already posted at Japanese schools. While the latter think that children’s problems are basically intrinsic, the former consider that they do not or cannot adapt themselves to the surrounding environment. SSWs, therefore, have their sights set on both individuals and their circumstance in trying to resolve their problems.











 In 2008, the education ministry budgeted 1.5 billion yen to launch its SSW initiative. It posted SSWs at 141 locations across the country in the initial year. However, their supply has not been catching up with the demand. Besides, while there are about 700 SSWs active in Japan now, few of them have high qualifications such as certified social welfare worker and psychiatric social worker. In 2009, the Japan Association of Schools of Certified Social Worker established schools with authorized social work curriculum, but such schools still number only 29. The employment status of SSWs is still unstable. Most of them are hired as part- timers.


 There are a number of children who are distressed by their serious problems. Japan’s SSW system definitely needs further improvement in order to save those poor children.







(Written By : Tomomi Kubota)