The nail that stands out must be hammered.
- Japanese proverb -
It is no secret that in Japan it is extremely important to blend in, or more specifically, to not stand out.
Even in companies, schools or sports clubs, people make an effort to comply with the group standard in terms of dress code, conduct and sometimes even hairstyle. This is likely because of Japan's strong focus on maintaining order and a group mindset.
Those that do not conform to group expectations, or even look different, often become the targets of bullying by their peers. This is especially true for children.
In 2020 there were 517,163 cases of bullying in Japanese schools. Although many of the cases involved physical violence, the emotional scars of the victims are often worse that any physical scars. This is exactly where traffickers find an opportunity to exploit the child’s vulnerability...
When the whole world seems to be turning against the child, a new “friend” can become a voice of hope, encouraging them, boosting their self-esteem with compliments, offering a listening ear and a hand of friendship, or even a promise of love. Or so it seems. What is really happening is that the potential trafficker has found a soft spot or emotional need that they can pretend to meet while setting the child up for further exploitation.
More often than not, these children believe that they have no purpose, and no value. We can help them by replacing this lie from the enemy with truth – before traffickers get to them!
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
By taking quick action when we notice that a child is being bullied, and having regular, open discussions with the children in our care, we can help them to recognize that their lives have a purpose, they are precious, and there is HOPE.
You might not be called to serve on the frontlines, but you can join the battle against child trafficking in many other ways! Go to our “Get Involved” page to learn how you can make a difference.
 Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. https://www.mext.go.jp/content/20201015-mext_jidou02-100002753_01.pdf