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The Nurse's Office As A Refuge 4

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

4. PROBLEMS OF JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

In recent years, junior high school students demonstrate a number of complicated problems. We examined the kind of problems they have, how they deal with them, and how the school nurse helps them resolve their problems.

1. Problems

In Table 41, students were asked if they were worried about specific matters such as exam results, their future, and personal relationships with friends and teachers. 60.2% of students are very worried or a little worried about entering the school of their choice and this was the largest percentage. This was followed by 40% to 50% who worry that their grades do not improve no matter how hard they study, that they do not know what occupation is best for them, and that they do not know how to study. Students worry a great deal about school grades and the entrance exam which is related to grades. As for problems with personal relationships, almost 30% have worried that they cannot get along well with friends, including those who were very worried (7%) and those who were only a little worried.

More than 10% of the students worry about relationships in their classes. They worry about not being able to get used to the atmosphere in the class, that they are not able to get along with teachers, and that they cannot make friends. As for family relations, about 20% of the students think that their parents do not understand them and that their parents do not agree with them about their future. Table 42 indicates problems by gender. There is a remarkable difference between boys and girls in this respect. More girls worry about friendships and entrance exams. They worry about not being able to get along with friends, not being able to get accustomed to the atmosphere of the class, not being able to make friends, about entering the school of their choice, not knowing how to study, and not understanding classes.

Table 43 indicates the relationship between the problems experienced by students after entering junior high school and their participation in club activities. A high percentage of students who have problems are those who do not take part in club activities or are those who are involved in cultural clubs, but are not eager participants. In contrast, students who are actively involved in sports and cultural club activities also worry about their studies, but less about family and friendships. Detailed data is omitted in the table but for the category of plans for the future, students who intend to work after high school graduation are worried about their studies. Those who intend to go to vocational school or junior college are worried about choice of occupation. Among students who want to attend a four-year university, those who aim for "difficult" universities, in particular, report problems with personal relationships such as not being able to make friends, being bullied by friends, not being able to get along with teachers, and not agreeing with their parents about their future.

Tables 44 and 45 show the relationship to the family in terms of numerical values. In Table 44, a low percentage of students with mothers who work full-time are worried about entering the school of their choice, but a high percentage report problems with friends and family relationships such as parents not understanding how they think, about the stressful atmosphere at home, and not being able to get along with friends.

Table 45 shows the problems students have from the perspective of how they spend dinnertime. Students who eat alone or the few who eat with the family excluding the mother worry about their studies and personal relationships. This indicates that lack of contact between mother and child, in particular, has an adverse effect on personal relationships such as friendship and the parent-child relationship. This also implies the mother is an important presence in the lives of junior high school students.

2. Seeking Advice on Problems

How do junior high school students deal with and solve their problems? Table 46 shows they consult people in the following order.


1st 2nd 3rd
problems with studies friends family homeroom teacher
problems concerning future plans family homeroom teacher friends
problems with personal relationships friends nobody family
problems with family nobody friends family


The table shows that junior high school students consult with friends, family, and the homeroom teacher, or nobody. The homeroom teacher ranks third even for problems with studies and it is clear that they do not provide emotional support for problems regarding friendships and family relationships.

Do students consult the school nurse? Table 46 shows that not many students go to the school nurse for advice and makes a comparison with the homeroom teacher and club counselor regarding problems with friends and family.


homeroom teacher club counselor school nurse
problems with personal relationships 3.0% 0.6% 2.9%
problems with family 4.2% 0.5% 3.7%


According to the table above, the school nurse accounts for approximately the same percentage as the homeroom teacher, and accounts for a much higher percentage than the club counselor.

In most schools, there is only one school nurse and there are many differences among school nurses in attitude, management of the nurse's office and the extent to which students place their trust in them. These differences are analyzed in detail in Chapter 4 and here we would like to study the extent that junior high school students feel they can trust school nurses.

Table 47 shows that 24.3% of the students feel sure that the school nurse will keep their secrets. Including the 54.9% who feel the school nurse will probably keep their secrets, we find that about 80% trust the school nurse. By gender, girls trust the school nurse more. Nevertheless, given that a single school nurse provides specialized first aid and manages student health and school hygiene, it also appears that the nurse is not always prepared to listen to individual problems and to give attentive support.

In recent years, there has been a trend to actively place counselors in schools and this has been due to the increasing complexity of the problems faced by students and the inability of the homeroom teacher to sufficiently cope with each case and provide support. A special counselor with professional specialized knowledge is deemed necessary to handle such problems as refusal to go to school, bullying, and those concerning personal relationships.

What do junior high school students think about counselors? In Table 48, students were asked if it was good to have someone, for example a counselor, who would listen to their problems. 13.1% thought it was very good ; including the percentage who thought it was somewhat good, 40% of the students indicate that they would like to have someone who would listen to their problems. As seen above in Table 42, girls are not only worried about their grades and the entrance exam, but also by problems that have a emotional and psychological aspect such as problems with friends and family. At the same time, given that they want to get advice from family members, it appears that there is a strong desire for someone to talk to about their problems. There were no notable differences among the grades.

Although the data in the table is summarized, students who want to go to vocational school, junior college or a "difficult" university, state they seriously need counseling. Many of those who want to enter vocational school or junior college are girls and this indicates that there is a pressing need for counseling among girls(Table 48). On the other hand, students who want to enter "difficult" universities report that they have serious problems that affect them psychologically such as disagreements with parents, not being able to get accustomed to the class atmosphere, bullied by friends, and not being able to get along with friends and teachers.

3. Problems and the Nurse's Office

Of the students who are the subject of this survey, 80% rely on the school nurse(Table 47). In addition, 40% answer that they would like to consult a counselor if it is possible(Table 48). However, at present, few schools have counselors. In many cases, the school nurse not only provides first aid treatment, but also functions as a good counselor and understanding person.

Table 49 lists the problems of the students and the frequency of visits to the school nurse. A high percentage of students who go to the nurse's office once a week or more are worried about grades, choice of future occupation, and their relationships with parents, friends, and teachers. They are anxious about entering the school of their choice, about what occupation is best for them, that their parents do not understand them, that they do not understand their classes, cannot get along with friends, that the atmosphere at home is not good, that their parents do not agree with them about the future, about being bullied by friends and not being able to get along well with teachers. In particular, compared with students who do not visit the school nurse's office, a remarkably high percentage report having problems at home with the family and with relationships with friends and teachers. Do students who have problems visit the school nurse often because they have a high degree of trust in her?

Table 50 examines the relationship between the degree to which students think the school nurse will keep their secrets and the frequency of visits. Among students who do not visit the school nurse, 21.3% are absolutely sure that the school nurse will keep their secrets. In contrast, 47.0% of students who visit the school nurse once a week or more feel the same way, indicating that they place a high degree of trust in the school nurse. Table 51 shows that students who often visit the school nurse would also like to receive counseling from a counselor.

What do junior high school students who have a variety of complex problems think of their problems? In Table 52, they were asked about how conscious they were of their problems. 22.8% of the students wholeheartedly agree that it is better not to dwell on problems. Including those who somewhat agree, 70% of students think that it is better to avoid thinking about one's problems too seriously. Moreover, there are 50% to 60% who keep their problems to themselves because they are worried that their secrets might be revealed to others or because they do not want other people to know they have a problem.

Table 53 shows that girls think more seriously about their problems. They worry that their secrets might be divulged, but perhaps because they actually want to consult someone the percentage who do not want other people to know they have a problem is low. In contrast, boys tend to think that seeking advice will not solve their problems and are ashamed of themselves for having problems. This points to the complex psychological state of junior high school students.

Is this complex psychological state formed during their development? Table 54 examines the relationship between their attitudes towards problems and the number of siblings in the family. The only child tend to be optimistic. They do not dwell on their problems too seriously and think that seeking advice is ineffective. The older of two siblings in a family tends to not want other people to know that he or she has a problem and does not tell secrets to others, worrying that they might be divulged.

Furthermore, Table 55 shows attitudes towards problems and the relationship to family and dinnertime. A low percentage of students who have dinner alone think about solving their problems by seeking advice. They worry that their secrets might be divulged and do not want others to know they have problems. In contrast, students who have dinner with all members of the family or with everyone excluding the father tend to think that problems can be solved by seeking advice from other people. Perhaps eating together and contact with the family promotes trust in others and the idea that they can solve problems by talking. This shows the importance of home and the developmental process in their ability to deal with problems.

Table 56 shows the relationship to visits to the nurse's office. Students who often visit the nurse's office dwell on their problems, are ashamed that they have problems and do not think that seeking advice will solve their problems, but they are not worried that their secrets will be divulged. Do they visit the school nurse because they trust her, think of her more as a person who will listen to anything they have to say, however minor, and feel secure when they talk to her? Detailed data is omitted in the table, but a high percentage of students who find school life enjoyable and like their present self-image tend not to dwell on their problems and feel that they can solve their problems by seeking advice.

The data indicates that students have a variety of problems that concern grades, their future plans, friendships and parental relationships. During the development of junior high school students, having problems is not necessarily bad. Worrying promotes growth and in this respect, worrying and having problems can have meaningful aspects. The important thing is to accept and support students who have problems. This data indicates that students turn to friends and family for advice and that many students do not seek advice from anyone. The homeroom teacher can give advice about their studies and future plans, but do not sufficiently understand their emotional challenges, and cannot support them emotionally. At the same time, students seem to seek someone with whom they can talk, such as a counselor. In this situation, perhaps the nurse's office also functions as a counseling center.

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