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The Nurse's Office As A Refuge 1

Source: Monograph vol.55 edited by Educational Research Center, Benesse Corporation (Supervising Editor : Dr. Masashi Fukaya, professor, Tokyo Seitoku Junior College)


1) Physical Condition

In the survey, 47.7% of the students reply that they participate in vigorous exercise outside of physical education class four or more times a week. 26.3% of the students answer that they seldom exercise, reporting a frequency of once a week or less. Among ninth graders, more than 40% answer once a week or less.

The survey indicated that junior high school students are under a tremendous amount of stress. 66.6% report that it is always or often difficult to get up in the morning. 55.3% of the students answer that they do not get enough sleep and 42.3% answer that they cannot fall asleep easily. 23.3% report lack of appetite. (Table 11, Table 15)

2) Relationship with Friends

More than 70% of the students have 11 friends or more and 50% answered that they have 21 or more. By grade, eighth graders tend to have fewer friends and this appears to be due to a growing consciousness of the opposite sex and the tendency to form cliques. (Table 17)

3) Changes in Junior High School Life Compared with Elementary School

After entering junior high school, students feel that school rules have become stricter, that it has become more difficult to play with their friends, that they have more problems, and that teachers are stricter. However, they do not feel that it has become more difficult to go the nurse's office or that the school nurse has become stricter. By gender, girls are more negative about junior high school life. (Table 19, Table 20)

4) Frequency of Visits to the Nurse's Office

17.8% of the students visit the nurse's office at least two to three times a month. This shows that there are not many students who regularly use the nurse's office as a refuge. (Table 28)

5) Characteristics of Students Who Visit the Nurse's Office

Many of the students who visit the nurse's office tend to be under much stress and are absent from school often. They suffer from lack of adequate sleep hours, are irritable and there is no stable pattern in their daily life at home. (Table 29, Table 34)

6) Reasons for Visiting the Nurse's Office

73.8% of the students reported that they visited the nurse's office when they hurt themselves or felt bad, an understandable response given that the primary role of the nurse's office is to administer first aid. Although the percentage is low, 3% to 5% of students consider the school nurse to be a counselor and report visiting the nurse's office when they want to avoid class, want to talk about a physical problem, or have some other problem that is worrying them. (Table 35)

7) Frequency and Reasons for Visiting the Nurse's Office

A high percentage of students who frequently visit the nurse's office want to talk with the school nurse about a physical problem or other problems. This indicates that the nurse's office functions as a refuge for some students. (Table 37)

8) Image of the Nurse's Office

Approximately 60% of the students regard the nurse's office as a place where they feel valued as an individual and comfortable. However, only 24.9% consider the nurse's office to be a place to talk about problems, indicating that it is not generally regarded to be such a place. (Table 38)

9) Worries of Junior-high School Students

After entering junior high school, a high percentage report being worried about their academic performance and future: namely, whether they will be able to enter the school of their choice, about choosing an occupation, about school and studying. This is followed by 30% who worry about personal relationships such as not getting along well with friends. Girls worry about relationships with friends and entrance exams more than boys. (Table 41, Table 42)

10) Seeking Advice

When students have a problem with their studies or academic future, they talk to friends, family and the homeroom teacher. When they have a problem that concerns personal or parental relationships, they either talk to friends or report not having anyone with whom they can consult. Although homeroom teachers can serve as counselors for problems related to studies or the future, they are not capable of providing support to students who are troubled about personal and parental relationships. (Table 46)

11) Trust in the School Nurse

24.3% answer that they trust the school nurse will keep their secrets. Including the percentage who think the school nurse will probably keep their secrets, 80% of the students trust the school nurse. By gender, girls tend to trust the school nurse more. Furthermore, students who visit the school nurse frequently tend to trust the school nurse. (Table 47, Table 50)

12) Student Awareness of Problems

When asked whether it was good not to dwell too seriously on their problems, 70% of the students agreed to this statement very much or somewhat. Between 50% to 60% of the students were worried that if they seek advice, their secrets might be divulged to someone else, or reported that they did not want other people to know about their problems. While girls are worried about their secrets being divulged, it appears they also want to confide in someone, because only a low percentage report they do not want anyone to know about their problems, which indicates that they have complicated feelings about this matter.(Table 52, Table 53)

13) Nurse's Office at Each School

Nurse's offices can be divided into three types with different functions: a place to receive medical treatment, a place to recover from lack of sleep, and a place to receive counseling. How the nurse's office functions tends to depend on the approach of the school nurse than on external conditions such as the size of the school. In a school where the nurse's office functions as a place to receive counseling, students feel friendly toward the school nurse and trust that she will keep their secrets. For them, the nurse's office is a cheerful and comfortable place. In this type of school, even students who are not currently visiting the school nurse regard it as place to receive counseling. (Table 62, Table 67)

[Survey Outline]

Target: 1991 students from the seventh to the ninth grade in public junior high schools in Tokyo and 5 school nurses
Period: July to September 1996
Method: Questionnaires distributed through schools and interviews of school nurses

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