OSAKA--Police have arrested three middle school students on suspicion of assaulting a classmate in an apparent case of bullying in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture.
The three boys, all aged 15, allegedly burned the hair of a 14-year-old boy and broke his nose, the police said.
The Neyagawa Police Station announced Wednesday they had arrested the three boys, third-year students at the municipal middle school, on suspicion of crimes including assault and violation of the law on punishment through physical violence. The police also took into protective custody two other boys, both aged 13, for alleged violation of the law and notified a child consultation center about the case.
According to police, the boys admitted they had bullied the boy since he was a first-year student at the school, quoting one of them as saying they bullied him "just for fun."
The five boys were allegedly involved in tying the arms of the boy behind his back and burning the hair on his head with a lighter at a city park at about 1:30 a.m. on May 20. One of the five went further on May 28, punching the boy in the face in a classroom at their school and at a city shrine, police said. The boy's injuries from this incident took about two weeks to heal.
The boy's homeroom teacher noticed his face was swollen when he came to school the next day. After the teacher confirmed he had been bullied by the other boys, the school's principal consulted with the police station, and the boy and his guardians filed a damage report with the police.
The boy reportedly told the police the other boys had used him to run errands and extorted pocket money from him since he was a first-year student. "I had no choice but to obey them. If I refused, they'd hurt me by kicking and punching me," the police quoted the boy as saying.
According to the Neyagawa city board of education, the boy was the subject of violence on two occasions in his first year by the three boys who were arrested. The school recognized that bullying was going on and made sure the boy was in a different class from the alleged bullies in his second year, which they believed had solved the problem. However, the boys began spending time together again in the third year.
The police said one of the two 13-year-olds is a second-year student at the same school and the other is a second-year student at Moriguchi municipal middle school in the prefecture.