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Sense of Normative Behavior and Bullying 4 (1995)

Source: Monograph vol.54 edited by Educational Research Center, Benesse Corporation
(Supervising Editor : Dr. Masashi Fukaya, professor, Tokyo Seitoku Junior College)


4. AN ERODING SENSE OF NORMATIVE BEHAVIOR AND RULES
1. The start of delinquent behavior
Junior high school students are said to be changing. In any period of history, youth have always changed, but students now seem to be losing confidence and unable to find their own way of living.
Does this mean that their sense of normative behavior and rules are collapsing? As table 14 indicates, walking on the back of their shoes and often being late is not related to delinquency. Students think that eating candy and chewing gum at school are examples of conduct that signal the start of delinquency.
According to data by grade and gender in table 15, more boys than girls think that certain behavior constitutes the "start of delinquency." By grade, a higher percentage of seventh graders think certain behavior signals the start of delinquency while fewer students in the higher grades feel this way.
Ninth graders do not consider the following conducts to be delinquent.

7th(A) 9th(B) B/A
Regularly forgetting to bring things to school 20.5% 7.5% 36.6%
Bringing hairbrushes to school 16.1% 8.4% 52.2%
Bringing comic books to school 39.7% 23.1% 58.2%
Leaving textbooks at school 19.6% 12.5% 63.8%
Not wearing school or grade badges 36.7% 23.8% 64.9%
* % who think of the behavior as "very delinquent" and "rather delinquent"

It is understandable that 9th graders do not consider forgetting things often and bringing a hairbrush to school to be delinquent conduct. It can be said that the particular grade is not necessarily related to the decreasing sensitivity of delinquent behavior.
Has the sense of delinquency among students truly changed over time? This research uses the same questionnaire that was used in a survey in 1989. The results of the 1989 survey were published in "Pre-delinquency (2)" (Monograph Vol. 34). Table 16 compares the results of the two surveys.
As indicated in the table, more students now feel that not participating in cleanup duty and eating candy and chewing gum at school are delinquent behavior. However, out of the 13 examples of behavior, five are perceived to be delinquent behavior by a greater percentage of students and eight items, such as shortening skirts and leaving textbooks at school, are consider to be so by a lower percentage. While certain behavior was considered to be delinquent in the past, this indicates fewer students hold the same opinion about the same behavior in the previous survey.

 

2. Experience of deviant behavior
The first section indicates what actions are thought of as delinquent rather than whether students themselves are actually becoming delinquent. In this section, we asked students if they had engaged in conduct that they thought to be delinquent.
Table 17 indicates that over 30% of students claim to "always" engage in conduct such as leaving textbooks at school and putting on lip cream. These were the only the items to receive over a 30% response. Students answered that they "never" engaged in 10 out of the 17 actions. This indicates that few students engage in such conduct as shoplifting or smoking.
In the data given in table 18 by grade and gender, girls claim to have engaged in some delinquent conduct more than boys. Older students indicate a higher level of experience than those in lower grades.
Personal growth can be given as the reason for the greater percentage of older students who have engaged in bad conduct. As much as this conduct is undesirable, it may be unavoidable.
We compared the 1989 data on deviant behavior with that of 1995. As in table 19, the percentage of students who claim to have engaged in deviant behavior increased in 1995 for most of the 17 items. In particular, percentages have increased for students who have worn lip cream, gone to game centers and walked on the backs of their shoes.

1989 (A) 1995(B) difference(B-A)
Wearing lip cream 27.0% 61.8% 34.8%
Leaving textbooks at school 25.9% 52.9% 27.0%
Going to game centers 17.6% 39.3% 21.7%
Walking on the back of shoes 24.2% 32.1% 7.9%
* % who "always" and "sometimes" engage in such conduct

The data indicates that students are not increasingly engaging in deviant activities as has been feared. Nevertheless, it is certain that the percentage of students who have engaged in such conduct is growing.
Do students feel that, as junior-high school students, such deviant conduct is wrong? In table 20, over 60% of the students thought that shoplifting, smoking, and driving without a license were "very wrong." If the percentage who answered "wrong" are also included, this amounts to between 80% to 90% of students.
Students do not engage in wrong conduct such as shoplifting. However, more students have engaged in conduct that they believe is not so wrong, such as leaving textbooks at school. In other words, when the feeling of wrongdoing fades, students tend to engage in such conduct (Table 17, Table 20).
In this sense, it is important to inculcate a sense of right and wrong. When we analyze the type of conduct that is considered to be wrong by grade, it is apparent that the feeling of wrongdoing is weaker in the higher grades for most conduct. As mentioned above, it is understandable that students in higher grades would have a diminished sense of wrongdoing, but there also seems to be a need to set a standard by which to judge when a sense of normative behavior has decreased (Table 21).
Table 22 provides a chronology of the conduct that junior high students consider to be wrong. Compared with data form 1989, fewer students feel that drinking, smoking, going out at night, and perming their hair are wrong.

1989(A) 1995(B) difference(A-B)
Smoking at school 83.1% 76.7% 6.4%
Drinking at home 55.1% 38.1% 17.0%
Going out at night 59.4% 37.3% 22.1%
* % who think of the conduct as "very bad"

The figures above give a strong indication that the sense of normative behavior and rules has become lax.

3. Feelings towards school rules

This section will focus on whether students feel that the actions of their friends are wrong. Table 23 shows that fewer than half of the students feel that taking someone's umbrella and taking someone's bicycle without permission are very bad. About 20% of the students feel that such behavior is not so wrong, including those who think it is wrong, but overlook it.
In table 24, more girls than boys and more seventh graders than ninth graders feel that such conduct is wrong.
Table 25 indicates the chronology of the change in students' attitude toward these types of behavior. The same questions were asked in 1983.

1983(A) 1995(B) difference(A-B)
Smoking at home 62.8% 41.2% 21.6%
Perming hair 40.8% 23.0% 17.8%
Riding someone's bike 51.1% 34.6% 16.5%
Drinking to celebrate 40.3% 26.8% 13.5%
* % who think of the conduct as "very bad"
As shown here, students are becoming insensitive to wrongdoing.
In table 26, students were also questioned on how they evaluated school rules. Here, we focus on the highest percentages. The following indicates what they thought of school rules.

Necessary rules:
Bow when entering the teachers' room 51.0%
Wear the specified gym clothes 47.2%
Refrain from dyeing hair 43.5%
Get to school 5-30 minutes early 39.1%
Boys' shirts must be white 38.3%
 
Meaningless, but should be followed:
Need permission to stay at school 29.9%
Sit down when the bell rings 32.2%
Do not put stickers on the school bag 33.2%
Observe standard width for boys' slacks 32.3%
 
Meaningless, so they are not necessary to follow:
Boys must close their collars properly 33.8%
 
Rules that should be eliminated:
Students must carry the specified bag 33.8%
Boys must wear navy-blue or blue socks 47.8%
Girl must wear hair above their shoulders 48.6%
Girls' hair bands can only be black 56.8%
Boys must have a crewcut 70.2%
 
As for rules that they feel should be eliminated, it is quite valid that they should feel this way and certainly other rules they should follow also seem unnecessary. In this sense, students appear to want to follow school rules.
A breakdown of student replies in table 27 shows that 7th graders have a stronger tendency to follow school rules. Table 28 indicates that students who enjoy coming to school make more of an effort to follow the rules. Furthermore, in terms of the relationship to bullying, those who have experienced bullying tend to answer that they follow the rules. The data suggests that there is a correlation between bullying and school rules, but this will be taken up later.
The comparison with 1986 is shown in table 29. The figures are combined for rules that are considered to be necessary and meaningless, but should be followed, and this demonstrates the extent to which students intend to follow the rules. Compared with 1986, students expressed less willingness to follow the following rules.

1986(A) 1995(B) difference(A-B)
Boys must have a crewcut 38.1% 11.9% 26.2%
Girls' hair bands can only be black 36.0% 16.1% 19.9%
Girls must wear hair above their shoulders 43.4% 24.7% 18.7%
* The figures are combined for rules that are considered to be necessary and meaningless, but should be followed.

The above rules have already been abolished by many schools, but they are criticized by many students.

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